Air quality in Delhi-NCR reaches its worst levels after Diwali every year. Heavy smog is a common phenomenon. In 2021, despite the ban on crackers, the air quality index (AQI) for places in Delhi and the surrounding areas remained poor. It crossed 462, the worst in five years on the day after Diwali, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
A ban on construction was imposed in the last few years to battle air pollution. This year, something similar is expected again.
According to real estate experts though, the construction prohibition would, however, cause a delay to the ongoing projects and directly impact homebuyers.
“With bans under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), the scheduled and unscheduled bans on construction leads to undefined delays, as remobilisation becomes a challenge. This delay also enhances the complication for the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) in the extension of time to projects, and awarding interest to the buyer,” says Harsh V Bansal, convenor, CII Delhi Sub-committee on Real Estate, Urban Development and Infrastructure and co-founder, Unity Group.
How Will The Ban Impact Homebuyers?
On an average, a one-month ban on all construction activity delays a project by at least three-four months. Prashant Thakur, senior director, and head – research, Anarock Group, says, “There are currently as many as 568,000 housing units under various stages of construction in Delhi-NCR. Periodic construction bans by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the government, or the apex court in response to poor air quality have serious consequences.”
Bansal says RERA-registered projects involve public money as well as the interest of the general public (buyers).
He adds: “We requested the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to consider RERA-registered projects as Public Interest Projects, and accordingly, consider them for exemption under these revised guidelines.”
Bansal further says that this step will also help in encouraging unregistered projects to be more responsible and register under RERA in the coming times, which was set up to safeguard the interests of individuals and the industry.
At least 132,000 units are under construction in Delhi-NCR area as of Q3 2022. , according to the data of Anarock Research (See Under Construction).
How Will It Impact Residential Prices?
According to Anarock Research, the impact of these construction bans on the overall property prices will be almost negligible.
“It is a seasonal phenomenon when air quality worsens during the onset of the winter season every year, coinciding with agricultural stubble burning in nearby states,” the report says.
Delhi RERA has also written to the CAQM chairperson and has requested him to refrain from prohibiting the construction of RERA-registered projects due to pollution, as this will negatively affect the timely delivery of the units to the homebuyers.
“Since RERA registered projects are required to be completed against the given timeframe in the interest of allottees, I request you to kindly exempt them from ban under GRAP,” Anand Kumar, chairman of Delhi RERA wrote in a letter to CAQM on September 29, 2022.