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Development Watch – January Week #2

7-Year Low in Home Sales

Home sales and new launches fell sharply owing to weak consumer sentiment, regulatory changes, and high levels of unsold inventories. Home sales declined by 38% while new home launches fell by a drastic 78% from the peak of 2011. Compared to last year, new launches fell by 41%.

According to this Mint report, around 2.3 lakh homes were sold in 2017, against more than 3.6 lakhs in 2011. The survey was conducted by Knight Frank in 8 major cities like Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

Demand Outweighs Supply in Commercial Segment

Commercial offices sector grew by 7% in the last year. 32.7 million sq ft of new office space was launched last year, highest proportion being in Bangalore. Vacancies across offices also were at a five year low, and prime office markets had insufficient supply.

Special Central Assistance for Naxal districts in Chhattisgarh

Rs. 696 Crores were sanctioned by the Union Government for 8 Naxal affected districts in Chhattisgarh, under the Special Central Assistance Scheme. Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma, Narayanpur, Kondagaon, Bastar and Kanker districts have received approval for Rs. 29 Crores per year, for next 3 years. This will help accelerate the pace of development in these areas.

India’s Fastest Super-computer comes up in Pune

‘Pratyush’, the fastest, and India’s first ‘multi-petaflops’ super-computer, is now part of a High Performance Computing (HPC) facility at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). The 4.0 petaflops super-computer is located in Pune, and will be used for improving weather and climate forecasts. It would contribute towards better and more accurate forecasts of the Monsoon, tsunamis, cyclones, air quality, lightning, flood and drought among others.

Another existing HPC facility, the first, is installed at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) in Noida. As reported by The Hindu, with the new system, it would be possible to map regions in India at a resolution of 3 km and the globe at 12 km.

The forecasting is done using a dynamical model, which simulates the weather conditions based on a month’s forecast. A custom-built model then calculates how the actual weather will play out over the next months.

All 8,500 Rural and Urban Railway Stations to have Wi-Fi

As part of government’s ambitious Digital India initiative, currently Wi-fi services are available at more than 200 major stations. About 1,200 stations will have facilities to cater to rail passengers, while 7,300 stations will serve rail passengers as well as local people in remote and rural areas.

Railway stations in rural areas will have kiosks with Wi-Fi and will offer digital services like banking, Aadhar generation, issuing government certificates, filing taxes, paying bills, etc. 600 stations would have the Wi-Fi facility by March 2018, and all 8,500 stations would be covered by the next following year.

Affordable Housing to come up on land of PSEs

Land available with six loss-making central public sector enterprises has been identified to give momentum to housing initiative for the urban poor. State-run construction company NBCC Ltd. will develop some of the land under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The six CPSEs, including IDPL, HMT, Hindustan Antibiotics and Tungabhadra Steel Products, have about 3,000 acres.

Launched in 2015, the initiative aims to secure ‘Housing for All’ by 2022. NBCC has been appointed as the land management agency to auction the real estate assets of loss-making companies and will get 0.5% of the value realized from such sales as fee, subject to a cap of Rs 1 cr. The agency will determine the current land use and its suitability for industrial, manufacturing or other purpose, according to the guidelines.

Canada-India initiative for training of Smart City Planners

Twenty cities across three Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan are likely to have a fast-track development under a new Indo-Canadian initiative to train Smart City planners on capacity-building and governance.

The Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) based in India, and Canada-India Centre for Excellence (CICE) at Carleton University is undertaking the initiative to improve the service delivery infrastructure of these cities and thus create opportunities for private investments.

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