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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Coming up: India's big airport cities

For very long our airports have been deliberately planned outside city limits. One can't say they have been neglected, but surely they were never top priority. But going by some important facts, it's compelling to take a re-look. Consider this: 40 per cent of the value of world trade now goes by air (and this is just under 2 per cent of the total trade, by weight).

In India, 35 per cent of the country's trade by value goes by air. The government has foreseen some of this potential and so we see modernisation plans at major Delhi and Mumbai airports, which are already underway. Hyderabad and Bangalore, in fact, will be two brand new greenfield airports.

If we go by Dr John D Kasarda, director, Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, airports represent the "fifth wave" of changes in transportation infrastructure that have shaped commercial development over the past three centuries: the first being seaports; the second, rivers and canals; the third, railroads; and the fourth, highways. "Aviation will drive development in the 21st century just the way cars did in the 20th century," he predicts.

Just as you have central cities and the greater metropolis, you now will have airport cities and the greater "aerotropolis", he says. "Spines and clusters of airport-linked businesses are forming along airport transportation corridors upto 25 kilometres from the airport, with a significant economic impact up to 90 kilometres," he adds.

Kasarda says that cities built around international airports are better positioned for global trade and competitiveness. International airports are increasingly serving as a magnet for commercial development, and could rival traditional downtown central business districts as the core of economic activity in urban areas.

In his view, the airport city will have two aspects - the terminal and airside, and landside and around airport. The terminal and airside could include shopping mall concepts merged into passenger terminals like we already see in many major airports - retail, including upscale boutiques, restaurants, both fast food and high-end, leisure (fitness, recreation, spas) as well as culture (museums, regional art, musicians, chapels). This side will house the logistics and air cargo facilities.

The landside and the area around the airport could see development of hotels, entertainment centres, office and retail complexes, convention and exhibition centres, foreign trade zones and customs free zones and, more importantly, time-sensitive goods processing and distribution. Kasardian cities also envision connectivity via major highways as well as other transportation such as a metro link.

Some cities with upcoming mega-airports are Seoul, Dubai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport already has a mini-city stationed on a nearby island for its 45,000 workers, and another section, the SkyCity is being built. This will include the already-opened AsiaWorld-Expo exhibition centre, a second airport hotel, a nine-hole golf course, offices and a China-bound ferry terminal.

In India, the concept is taking ground in the new airport developments. At the unveiling of the master plan for the Delhi airport, managing director of GMR, Srinivas Bommidala, said, "We want to build an aerotropolis where development will take place around the airport. We are talking of a new mini city itself, around the airport."

Delhi International Airport Limited (which is a joint venture company, consisting of GMR Group, Airports Authority of India, Fraport, Eraman Malaysia and India Development Fund) has a total of 5,100 acres of which 250 acres is available for commercial development.

The chairman of GMR, GM Rao informs that this 250 acres might see, besides retail chains, spas and also a golf course. The Centaur Hotel around the airport will be demolished in the first phase and by 2010, there is a plan to develop 500 hotel rooms, while the metro link will also be in place. By 2010 though, we will only see a portion of the 250 acres being developed. "We will take 3-4 months to finalise these plans," says Rao.

Inside the airport, after the first phase, passengers can enjoy a wide variety of restaurants, shopping and duty-free options and a range of other leisure facilities. Business travellers would be able to utilise the most modern communication equipment at the business centre and relax or conduct meetings in the executive lounges. The airport would also have a hotel for passengers.

The alpha stores at Delhi Airport will feature an extensive range of products by some of the largest and popular brands in the world. The brands for India have been selected after careful research in passenger demographics, customer profiling and destination requirements and passengers will be able to choose from brands such as Armani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Nike and Swatch to name just a few.

We hear now that the Dwarka area very close to the airport might soon see a new railway station, an inter state bus terminal, an IT park, a freight complex-cum-export zone, a convention centre and a city centre commercial zone.

The greenfield airport being developed by GMR HIAL at Shamshabad in Hyderabad - a joint venture company promoted by GMR Group (63 per cent), Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (11 per cent), Government of Andhra Pradesh (13 per cent) and Airports Authority of India (13 per cent) too will adopt the aerotropolis concept. The new airport will have a dedicated "airport village" with a local flavour complete with shops.

The total area available to GHIAL is 5,400 acres of which 1,000 acres can be used for commercial developments. Within this space, there is a plan for a luxury hotel and convention centre in the future, a railway station and shopping malls.

On the retail front, there are some excellent layouts designed by a UK-based company. GHIAL will have over 4,300 sq m of airside retail, around 3,000 sq m in international, 1,300 sq m in domestic and about 500 sq m of landside retail space. In addition to this will be a 2,500 sq m, post-terminal airport retail village. The Shamshabad airport will have a 120-room Novotel airport hotel by Accor.

On the whole, the master plan envisages a total of 2,000 rooms in the airport area. One might even see a golf course here. GHIAL is also working on an SEZ within this 1,000 acres. There might soon be an aviation park outside the airport area as well as a hardware park close to the airport, subject to approvals.

Major access points to the site are from NH-7 (on its west) and Srisailam SH (on its east) besides the proposed ORR. A first of its kind elevated expressway (11.6 km) is plan-ned to help passengers reach from the city centre upto NH-7 and from there an expanded 6 lane NH road, thereby taking passenger to the new airport from the city within minutes.

The new airport coming up at Devanahalli in India's IT capital, Bangalore, also has 215 acres of land available for commercial development, from a total of 4,000 acres. Albert Brunner, CEO, Bangalore International Airport, informs that many components of an airport city have been conceptualised and will be made available in a phased manner.

In the plan is a technology center, which will house research campuses for global corporates. There will be some office spaces, service apartments, and healthcare and supporting retail spaces. The technology centre will be located at the entry to the airport on the main access road.

A separate business unit will house prime office space, two hotels (three- and four-star) and again more retail spaces. The most interesting part for the airport user would be the downtown area, which will be the closest to the terminal building.

It is intended to be positioned as a typical urban entertainment centre with retail formats and food courts, leisure and entertainment spaces, multiplexes, health and wellness facilities, a five-star hotel and some office space. This part will also have an airport visitor centre.

BIAL has selected the Oberoi Group to operate a first class international hotel under the Trident Hilton brand. This airport hotel will be within walking distance from the terminal building and will comprise of 321 keys, large conference facilities and a world class spa. This will be operation by November 2008.

Like most other international airports, BIAL too will have international standard cargo operations. The selected consortia consisting of SATS/Air India and Bobba Group/Menzies Aviation will build and operate two state-of-the-art general cargo warehouses for both domestic and international cargo on approximately 15 acres with an initial capacity to handle 300,000 mt of cargo per year, collectively.

Mumbai International Airport Limited, a consortium of GVK and Airports Company of South Africa is modernising the airport in Mumbai. The airport in Mumbai lies right in the middle of the city and the area around it has been largely developed over the years.

The international airport is in the Sahar area where all major hotels are located, while the domestic terminal is towards Santa Cruz, another well developed area. Apart from these, in a radius of 5-7 kilometres from the airport are other major business districts like the Bandra-Kurla complex and the SEEPZ special economic zone. An aerotropolis technically already exists here.

The modernisation at Mumbai airport will see commercial development on 196 acres of the total 1,960 acres available to MIAL. According to a spokesperson, there is a plan for at least two hotels - one a five-star, the other budget. There is also a possibility of Taj-GVK itself developing the properties. There will be high-street shopping and entertainment attached to the terminal building.

Outside the 196 acres, AAI had earlier earmarked land for a convention centre. That space might be given to GVK to develop a convention centre, later.

The aerotropolis concept is still a new one, and with Indian airports taking cognizance of their use as drivers of growth, it may be possible to leverage them to build the infrastructure our cities - and not just our airports - need. Source: Ravi Teja Sharma, rediff.com

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Parsvnath bagged a plot in Dwarka for Rs 4.49 billion

Parsvnath (Q, N,C,F)* Developers said it has bagged a Rs 17.50 billion contract under group housing scheme from New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA).

The project is expected to be completed in about three years time and the developable area would be about 7.5 million sq. ft.

The company, pursuant to the green shoe option (GSO) exercised by the stabilizing agent, JM Morgan Stanley, recently allotted 30,87,800 number of equity shares of Rs 10 each at a premium of Rs 290 per equity share to the stabilizing agent. The company has bagged a plot measuring 24,355 square meters at Dwarka in New Delhi for a price of Rs 4.49 billion. The company had participated in an open auction for hotel plots conducted by Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

The shares of company were trading up Rs 3.05, or 0.95% at Rs 324.60 at BSE. The total volume of shares traded was 433, 240. (13:40 p.m., Monday). Source: IRIS

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Property Rates at Dwarka, Faridabad and Noida, Continued to Grow at 10-15%

NEW DELHI: Correction, stagnation and boom. Over the last one year, residential property rates have seen it all in different areas of the National Capital Region(NCR). While price in Gurgaon-Manesar area saw a 8-10% fall, in Rohini and Kundli there was a significant 30-35% jump. Prices in major upcoming locations in and around Delhi, such as Dwarka, Faridabad and Noid, continued to grow at a steady pace of about 10-15%.

At present, property price in the Gurgaon area varies between Rs 3,200-3,300 per sq ft against Rs 3,500-3,600 around beginning of 2006. Between the years 2002 and 2005, price in this area had seen a 10-fold jump.

The Dwarka area zoomed on the realty radar towards middle 2005, when prices saw a sudden 40-50% jump, which was then attributed to completion of the flyover project and metro connectivity. Since then, price in the area has been growing steadily, and is close to Rs 3,500 per sq ft now. Prices in Noida in sectors bordering Delhi are about Rs 4,100 per sq ft against Rs 3,700 almost an year back. Similarly, in Delhi-bordering areas of Faridabad, such as Surajkund, property price has gone up to about Rs 2,500 per sq feet from Rs 1,800-1,900 in the last one year.

Present prices in the Kundli area, on the northern borders of Delhi, which was just about Rs 1,200-1,300 per sq feet in January 2006, has grown by 40-50% and now varies between Rs 1,900-2,100 per sq ft.

Experts say that genuine property buyers are mainly being guided by proximity to Delhi. Says TDI MD Kamal Taneja, “For a property buyer, distance from the central business district (CBD) and connectivity are the primary concerns. Of late, there have been many joint initiatives by both Delhi and Haryana governments to address infrastructure problems in areas close to Delhi on the northern borders. This has attracted a lot of investor interest in the area over the last 12-18 months.”

TrammellCrowMeghraj COO Santhosh Kumar notes that over the last one year, increased activity in the secondary market has put pressure on developers to rein in rampant price increases. “Many investors in the property market are in the process of unlocking their value. This has lead to secondary market rates in certain pockets in Gurgaon and Noida that are around 10-12% less than what developers want for new projects,” he said.

Also over the last one year developers have focused on bringing to the market top-end projects that range anywhere between Rs 70 lakh and Rs 1.25 crore. Property dealers agreed that in the supply of Rs 35 lakh to Rs 70 lakh projects have been very limited.

According to optimist experts, the slow-down in the Gurgaon area is also only a temporary phenomenon. Says National Real Estate Development Council (Naredco) deputy director Summit Jha: “This time, the real estate boom in the NCR is based on solid foundations. There may be minor corrections but by and large, there would not be a fall-out. There is a genuine demand for housing and once ongoing road and flyover projects in Gurgaon head towards completion, prices will bounce back.” (Source: The Timesnews Network)

Four Children go missing from Dwarka Area

NEW DELHI: Hot on the heels of the arrest of a young man for allegedly abducting and criminally assaulting a six-year-old girl at R. K. Puram over the weekend, four children are reportedly missing from different parts of South-West Delhi.

According to a Child Helpline official, four minors, all aged between two and ten years, went missing from the South-West Delhi this past Friday. Two of them were girls.

The first call received by the Child Helpline related to three-year-old Karan. He went missing from Palam village at 11-30 a.m. on Friday. Similarly eight-year-old Sunita went missing from Bharat Vihar at 6 p.m. Two-year-old Visukha and his ten-year-old cousin Poochu also went missing from Rajapuri the same day, the official said.

"Poochu and Visukha were both playing outside their house when they went missing under mysterious circumstances at 9 a.m. on Friday. Poochu, who lives with his parents in Noida, is mentally challenged and had come here to meet his aunt," said Chandan, a relative of the missing children.

Chandan said the family had registered a complaint with the Dabri police station the same day but the children have not been traced even after a week. "Some police officers took Visukha's parents to the police station today evening for inquiry," he said.

According to a senior police officer at the Dwarka police station, Sunita, who had come from Bihar to meet her aunt, had lost her way and was soon traced. "She has been sent to Nirmal Chaya orphanage," he said. He expressed hope that Karan would also be traced soon.

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said: "The cases are not interlinked and do not hint at any trend. There is no need to panic." (Source: TheHindu)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tourists from Dwarka, Greater Kailash, Maya Enclave, Rajindra Nagar, and Kirti Nagar Rescued

Shimla, February 14: Nearly 75 tourists, stranded at Tushali resort on the Kufri-Chail road for the past five days, were evacuated by the Shimla Administration in a day-long rescue operation that continued till midnight on Tuesday.

Heaving a sigh of relief on spotting the rescue team in the resort at 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the tourists’ group comprising relatives and friends from Delhi and Punjab took the first-aid and medicines from the rescue team and drove towards Chandigarh on the Chail- Kandaghat route.

Deputy Commissioner Tarun Kapoor said the convoy of 10 tourist vehicles was lead by the rescue team that included a doctor, Naib Tehsildar, Station House Officer Dhalli and other Home Guard jawans.

Most of the rescued belonged to Greater Kailash, Maya Enclave, Rajindra Nagar, Kirti Nagar and Dwarka, and Ferozepur and Ludhiana in Punjab.

They had checked in at Shilon Bagh resort on February 9 for a family get-together and due to heavy snowfall, got stuck there till February 12 when the resort ran out of power, ration, and diesel for generators.

On the same evening, they moved to Tushali resort, at a distance of nearly 100 metres from Shilon. Alarmed by a similar shortage of essentials, the tourists raised an alarm.

The tourists left Tushali resort after expressing gratitude to the staff for co-operation at the time of need. They thanked Sandeep, a grocery shop owner at Chail, who got crucial medicines for two old-aged heart patients in the group.

The resort staff said “Sandeep walked quiet a long distance in the snow and then took a bus to Solan to get the medicines and again walked back to deliver the medicines at four in the evening, yesterday”.

Sanjay Vaid, a member of the group had told The Indian Express over telephone at 10:30 pm (while still at Tushali) on Tuesday night that they had spotted the light of a vehicle far off moving towards their direction.

“As the resort staff informed that this was the snow cutter every one has come out to see the first ray of hope in this dark night. Now we are hopeful that we would be out in another two hours.” (Source: Expressindia)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The 60-acre Educational Campus with all Modern Facilities in Dwarka

NEW DELHI: Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University is going to get a brand new, state-of-the-art campus in West Delhi.

The 60-acre campus equipped with all modern facilities and features like auditoria, community centres, rainwater-harvesting system, solar energy utilisation system and a shopping centre will come up in Sector 10 of Dwarka.

Institute of Information Technology

The University has also decided to set up an "industry-driven" Institute of Information Technology at Surajmal Vihar in East Delhi.

"The land is in our possession. All necessary approvals for the campus are in place. The work has also been allotted. By 2008 we expect all work to be completed and we would be ready to move in," Vice-Chancellor K. K. Aggarwal told The Hindu

The University at present is functioning from its 16-acre campus at Kashmere Gate.

The new campus will have 12 earthquake-resistant academic buildings, six multi-storey hostels each for boys and girls and a residential complex for teaching as well as non-teaching staff.

"We want interaction between students to go beyond their classrooms. So there will be a lot of vehicular-free interaction places and academic hubs for them on the new campus. We want the research ambience to thrive and that is one reason why we have allotted space for our teaching staff on the campus so that they can work till late at night," said Prof. Aggarwal.

Talking about the University's new institution that will come up in East Delhi, he said: "We have acquired 19 acres for this autonomous institute and construction is likely to start very soon. It will be modelled on the lines of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology in Bangalore and Hyderabad and will provide research and development facilities of international standards."

Talks with NASSCOM

The University is at present holding talks with the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) and wants the organisation to "practically run the institute".

"Six to seven industry groups will be part of the management of the institute. Thus students will learn what the industry wants them to. This will increase their employability in the market," added Prof. Aggarwal.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Proposed Link Road from Dwarka to Palam Vihar

GURGAON: The millennium city just got a lot bigger. It will now stretch all the way to, and include, Manesar.

What started off as a suburb across Delhi's southern borders has become a city in itself, with the 1971 population of 57,000 now touching 22 lakh and set to increase to 37 lakh by 2021.

Gurgaon's new Master Plan, notified on February 5 (a gazetted copy of which is with TOI), makes it clear that the city's construction boom is only likely to become more frenetic.

With the private-government partnership development model for the residential sector of 'New Gurgaon', private players will have a large role to play as Gurgaon grows even more rapidly than at present.

Besides a lion's share in the residential sector, private players will be permitted to develop 50% of area marked for commercial sectors.

The development plan is for a total of 37,069 hectares against the 9,881-hectares target of the 2001 plan. This includes special economic zones of 4,570 hectares and existing towns and villages in the region.

While the plan looks to focus on residential development - read more and more highrises - it also earmarks 5,441 hectares for industrial and commercial development. The inclusion of Manesar and its industrial environs is an indication of this.

There is news for Gurgaon residents who have begun to despair of connectivity with Delhi. Two 90-metre-wide link roads have been planned.

One is from Vasant Kunj to Mehrauli Road and Gurgaon, the other between Andheria Mor and Faridabad road through Mandi and Gwal Pahari.

Another 150-metre-wide link road has been proposed from Dwarka to Palam Vihar. An additional corridor along the 150-metre northern link to Delhi extending from Dwarka has been proposed in the final development plan 2021 while a similar MRTS will come up along Mehrauli road up to the proposed inter state bus terminal at Kherki Dhaula.

This will be extended to Manesar. A 150-metre road would be constructed along the NH 8, or Delhi-Jaipur highway, which will ensure that traffic entering Gurgaon flows smoothly.

This is essential if traffic which gets off the highway and moves in and out of Udyog Vihar and Cybergreens is not to be choked.

To cater to a projected population of 37 lakh, 14,930 hectares have been marked for residential purposes. Some 8,000 hectares have already been developed by Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and private developers and this is expected to accommodate some 20 lakh people. The additional 6,930 hectares would accommodate 15 lakh people by 2021.

The city's future would seem to be set in glass and concrete as is already visible in the case of New Gurgaon. There will be an explosion of malls and corporate parks.

"The new commercial areas will be in the form of big malls and corporate commercial complexes. In addition, commercial belts with the width of 200 metres have also been provided along the selected roads to cater to the needs of the surrounding areas,"states the gazette notification. (Source: TimesofIndia)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

New Metro Trains for Dwarka - Barakhamba Section

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on Sunday said two of its new trains would arrive in the Capital by February end.

The new trains will be deployed on Line III (Barakhamba-Dwarka section) by the end of March for the convenience of commuters on the crowded and longest Metro rail section.

The rolling stocks from the Korean manufacturer ROTEM have been readied in all respects of operations by the Bharat Earth Movers Limited at Bangalore and will be despatched for Delhi on February 20.

According to a DMRC spokesperson, after reaching the Capital, trail runs of the trains would be done for a few weeks before putting them on routine operations. "We are planning to start the operations of new trains by the end of March," he added.

The new trains will operate on Line III and the DMRC is also likely to increase the frequency of trains on this section from five minutes during peak hours to four minutes.

DMRC will also get eight more trains in coming months.

"From April, two trains will be added to the Metro operations every month. Of these, five will be added on Line III, while at least two trains will be added on Line I and one in the underground section between Central Secretariat and Delhi University," he added. (Source: The Hindu)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Reliance retail to start Western-style convenience stores in NCR

Reliance (Q, N,C,F)* Retail is all set to enter the national capital region (NCR) from Monday to start Western-style convenience stores, with an estimated investment of Rs 80 billion, reports Financial Express.

The company, which entered organised retail last year through food retailing outlets, will be opening nine `Reliance Fresh` stores across Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Noida.

Reliance Retail has lined up Rs 250 billion investments over the next five years for its retail business, of which it intends to spend Rs 80 billion in the NCR, sources said.

The company had recently announced that it spent around Rs 10 billion in two days for the purpose of acquiring commercial properties in the national capital.

Reliance Retail has acquired a property at Vikaspuri in West Delhi valued at around Rs 2,800 million, sources said.

The company has also acquired seven properties valued at around Rs 7 billion. Out of these, six were at Dwarka near the Indira Gandhi international airport and one at Rohini in West Delhi.

Source: IRIS NEWS DIGEST (05 February 2007)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Delhi Real Estate Price Trends

Delhi is the national capital of India and also one of the hottest destinations for investors. One of the most proactive reasons for investor’s priority as such is due to its good connectivity with most of the cities in India other than the best connecting city to all international airports. The property prices in Delhi in the recent times have been quite exorbitant.

The recent sealing drive of illegal commercial properties in Delhi for instance had no effect on the property market as such. However, as traders panicked for alternate options, it did create a significant increase in property prices of commercial properties in the malls and other legally acclaimed retail outlets. Delhi’s Khan Market also been in the news recently for been the costliest retail locale in the world.

In the residential market segment, Delhi has been known to have made the most astronomical transactions where properties sell for millions. This trend though most common in the posh localities of South Delhi is now moving towards earlier less significant places like Dwarka. The rental values of residential properties like the apartments and independent houses are quite high. The corporate leasing and diplomats in the city are in a way responsible for the trend, as they opt for the high-end properties.

Commercial properties like the office spaces in particular are in much demand as every other company want to have their offices in the city, as Delhi has better edge over many other metros in infrastructure, availability of professional work force and connectivity. (Source: Indianrealitynews.com)

Friday, February 2, 2007

High Rises by Private Builders in Dwarka, 50 Lacs Housing Units

The congested living conditions in many areas of Delhi may have made many people to sit up, and think about relocating to the adjoining NCR cities of NOIDA and Gurgaon. However, the proposed amendments in the Delhi Master Plan – 2021 may make you think otherwise. The capital city is in for a vertical expansion if the new provisions in the draft Delhi Master Plan are approved.

The draft recommends a revision of height restriction on buildings to 15 meters from the existing 11.5 meters. The FAR, which is the ratio of gross floor area permitted for construction on a site to its area on the ground, expressed in number of housing units, is also likely to be raised .The draft MPD 2021 aims to increase the FAR to 350 for plot sizes of 175 to 200 sq meters.

This is likely to ease the housing shortage the city is facing today. 15 lakhs additional units will be available if 1,500 illegal colonies are regularized with revised building norms.

Envisaging a total population of 2.3 crore in Delhi by 2021, city planners are gearing up to provide for 90 lakhs more homes. Half of these are proposed to be accommodated in the already developed areas of the city, while the rest would move towards new localities in rural northwest and southwest Delhi.

Old Delhi, Karol Bagh and about 600 unauthorised colonies are under the scanner for re-modelling. If the FAR is increased to 400 in these areas, 33.33 % of the plot would be utilized. Multi-storied construction is being considered for these localities.

The draft MPD allows for 20 floors if 20% of the land is being used, with real estate builders providing for adequate infrastructure like roads, water and sewage treatment plants and parking space.

High rises by private builders in new pockets of Delhi in Dwarka, Najafgarh, Asola and Narela would also be permitted, provided they meet clearance from air safety regulations, fire safety and traffic movement norms.

If the Master plan does get notified with these recommendations by the end of the month, the satellite townships of Gurgaon and Noida could be in for stiff competition from the capital for real estate investment. (Source: Indianrealitynews.com)

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Mayur Vihar, Dwarka and Rohini, The RWAs can Spring Several Surprises

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

"The decision would affect results in 50 to 60 wards"

NEW DELHI: The decision of nearly 250 residents' welfare associations to come together and unitedly fight the forthcoming Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has made the leading political parties do their calculations once again. Their think tank believes that this decision of the RWAs would impact the results in about 50 to 60 wards and they may even succeed in sending about a score of their representatives to the House.

A senior Congress leader admitted that the gains they had sought to make through an increase in the number of wards of MCD from 134 to a minimum of 272 would get almost annulled with the RWAs throwing their hat into the political ring.

"They have a significant presence in about 60 wards. These are primarily in colonies like Mayur Vihar, Dwarka and Rohini, where there are a significant number of middle-income group (MIG) and lower-income group (LIG) flats. With such colonies having a population of about 1.5 million, the RWAs can spring several surprises."

Apart from the fact that the RWAs have been constantly raising issues which matter the most to the area residents, another factor which is loaded in their favour is that they are almost cadre based and can upset the applecart of mass-based parties through better booth management.

"So even if they are not able to win many seats, they would definitely set the cat among the pigeons. With the size of the constituencies becoming smaller and every constituency being redefined, no candidate would be able to breathe easy till the results are out. Also this might lead towards a hung House which would further empower the Independents."

Agreeing with these views, another senior politician said the RWAs had been strengthened by the Delhi Government through its Bhagidari scheme and have become a force to reckon with. "They are rebels with a cause and are not afraid to raise issues that concern them. With massive backing from the area residents, these RWAs can cause trouble for the parties that nurtured them but could not keep them happy. Rightly so they now want not only their rights but also a share in the power."

Yet another aspect going in favour of the RWAs is that the office of the State Election Commission has still not announced which of the wards would be general and which would come under the reserved category. "With less than two months to go for the polls the parties are in a dilemma. With the number of seats expected to more than double to at least 272, a large number of workers are eager for tickets, but till the time the nature of the seats becomes clear, the political parties cannot even shortlist the candidates for each seat."

On the other hand, the RWAs have been consistently working with the residents and are utilising the time to create ward committees, comprising 11 members each, that would help in short-listing "clean and effective candidates" from their respective residential area for the polls. (Source: The Hindu)

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