Date
29 May 2017
Developers need about 54 to 60 approvals before starting to build, a process that can stretch on for years. Photo: Bloomberg
Developers need about 54 to 60 approvals before starting to build, a process that can stretch on for years. Photo: Bloomberg

Indian builder’s suicide unites developers battling red tape

The death of property developer Suraj Parmar has thrown a harsh light on the worsening red tape and corruption in India’s property sector.

Parmar left behind a 13-page suicide note outlining alleged harassment from government officials and demands for bribes. 

“It’s sad that someone had to commit suicide to get things going,” Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director of Hiranandani Constructions Pvt., told Bloomberg News in an interview.

“Getting all the permits used to take six to eight months some years back. They now can take two to three years.”

Parmar, the former chairman of the Cosmos Group, which built residential projects in Mumbai’s suburbs, shot himself at one of his company’s condo sites on Oct. 7, the report said.

Following his death, an industry group organized a protest march in Mumbai and shut down work at construction sites.

The association’s push to revive a proposal meant to ease project approvals has gained momentum after Parmar’s suicide, industry executives said.

Developers need about 54 to 60 approvals before starting to build, a process that can stretch on for years.

They need permissions ranging from an “Ancient Monument” approval to ensure that no monuments of historical significance are near the proposed project, to clearance from the Tree Authority, which must ascertain how many trees, if any, will be cut as a result of construction.

In his letter, which was verified by his family to Bloomberg News, Parmar wrote of delays in getting approvals, building plans getting rejected with retrospective effect, political interference, deliberate delays in implementing government policy and subjecting on-going projects to whimsical regulations, according to excerpts published by the developer’s industry group.

Parag Manare, the deputy commissioner of police at the crime branch in Mumbai, said the department is investigating four government officials named in Parmar’s suicide note.

The four, who haven’t been formally charged, have sought anticipatory bail, which the court has granted to them on an interim basis until Dec. 2, he said.

The police department has requested the court for a speedy hearing, Manare said.

“The suicide note left by him is a painful indictment of our system,” the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India said.

Delays in getting permits are adding pressure on an industry already grappling with dwindling sales and a funding squeeze.

Home sales in India’s top eight property markets has been falling while unsold inventory is on the rise, according to research firm Liases Foras.

The firm estimates it will take at least 45 months to find buyers for unsold homes in Mumbai alone.

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RA/CG

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