Ramesh Nair.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Nov 14 : As apprehensions over the adequacy of the Rs 25,000 crore stress fund for stuck realty projects and its proper implementation hover, consultancy firm JLL India's CEO and Country Head Ramesh Nair has said that developers will require around Rs 70,000 crore to complete the stalled projects across the country.

He, however, noted that the creation of the fund is a decision in the right direction.

Speaking to IANS, Nair said: "Our estimate is that it will require $8-10 billion or around Rs 70,000 crore to complete the stalled projects and ease the liquidity situation in the real estate sector." He also said that one of the major concerns is that whether the setting up of the fund and the flow of liquidity for the eligible projects of fund would be swift enough.

In a much-awaited relief for distressed home buyers awaiting possession of their flats, the Centre last week up to Rs 10,000 crore for completing housing projects stuck for years and the cabinet cleared a proposal to set up a 'Special Window' in the form of Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) to provide priority debt financing for the completion of stalled housing projects that are in the affordable and middle-income housing sector.

The corpus size of the AIF would be scaled up to Rs 25,000 crore after the SBI and the LIC pump in funds. It would grow further in the coming days with the addition of sovereign wealth funds and pension funds.

Seeking clarity on the modus operandi of the fund, Nair observed that currently the details of how the fund would work is vague and also said that professional agencies should be brought on board for execution of the fund flow to stress projects and their supervision.

Ankit Kansal, founder and MD of 360 Realtors, also told IANS that although package is "indeed a welcome step... given the size of the current challenges, this will fall short of the required momentum".

"It is estimated that there are around 2,00,000 stalled projects in India, which is worth around Rs 190,000 crore. In this regard, the amount is really small currently," he said.

Amit Jain, Chairman and Managing Director of realty firm ARKADE, said that the fund would be able to address only "the tip of the iceberg".

Concerns have also been raised over the eligibility of only the affordable and middle income housing projects for the fund.

Jain said that the disbursement of funds for stalled projects in metro cities like Mumbai has been capped at Rs 2 crore with carpet area of not more than 200 square metre, but a project stalled for an average of three to four years in south Mumbai or up to Andheri will require a minimum relaxation of Rs 2 crore to get started again.

"A stalled project is a stalled project irrespective of size and budget," he added.

"The impetus will be primarily targeting affordable and mid-ranged projects. This will mean that a large chunk of projects will be out of the purview of financial aid in the Indian metros such as Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR and Mumbai-Metropolitan Region," Kansal of 360 Realtors said.

According to Rahul Grover, CEO, SECCPL, the government should consider relaxing the upper limit of Rs 400 crore as many important stalled projects will not be eligible for the alternative investment fund. But, the selection process of all the projects should also be emphasised upon which will impact the large volume of home buyers, he added.

The Finance Ministry said the maximum funding will be Rs 400 crore for any single project that will be seeking assistance from the AIF.

Despite the apprehensions and appeals for dilution of the conditions, the decision to create a stress fund has created a positive sentiment in the long subdued sector.

Farshid Cooper, Managing Director of Spenta Corporation, said: "In an attempt to assist with last-mile funding the government will alleviate the stress on several developers and home buyers. This action will further kick-start a stagnant demand cycle and potentially reinvigorate currently tepid sentiments.

"In the medium term, we expect that the return of keenness to purchase from home buyers will help in job creation within the sector and its ancillary industries." (Rituraj Baruah can be contacted at rituraj.b@ians.in)

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