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REALTY EXPERTS IN 15 STATES

The Centre will soon appoint real estate experts and consultants in 15 major states for helping them to prepare affordable housing policy and streamline the rules for approving realty projects, a top government official said today. "We are coming out with a policy where we will be engaging large number of real estate experts and consultants to each individual states and asked them to study various rules and regulations related to building plan approvals," Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Secretary Arun Kumar Misra said while addressing a Assocham conference on the real estate. Misra said the Centre would identify 12-15 major states where these experts would be engaged for simplification on the rules and regulations. Realtors apex body CREDAI have been demanding a single- window clearance for approvals of realty projects, saying that the cost goes up by 40 per cent due to delay in approvals, which generally takes 12-24 months. Speaking on the sidelines, Misra said that the process of engaging consultants has already started and the same would be completed in the next two months. Asked about scope of work of these experts, the secretary said: "They will help the states to develop a housing policy with special emphasis on the affordable housing and also study the various laws, rules and regulations which are involved in getting a clearance of building activities". Misra said the experts would also develop a software that will help the states in expediting the approval process. The secretary said that the investment in appointing these consultants would largely be borne by the Centre. Apart from delay in approval process, Misra listed out other bottlenecks faced by the real estate sector that are limited land, existing rent law and high cost of funds. On relaxing FDI rules in realty sector, Misra said the Cabinet note has already been circulated. He said the ministry has suggested bringing down the minimum built-up area to 20,000 square meters from the existing 50,000 square meters. Foreign direct investment (FDI) of 100 per cent is allowed in real estate through the automatic route, subject to conditions, including a minimum built-up area for projects. Misra highlighted that the Centre has sanctioned two schemes which will mobilise money by the government and institutional sectors to develop 2 million houses in next four years and has earmarked investment of Rs 40,000 crore. To facilitate private sector participation in the affordable housing segment, he said the government has redesigned affordable housing in partnership scheme in which it would give a subsidy of 10-15 per cent of housing cost to build a house and make it available for the poor sections.

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