Saturday, August 20th, 2022 04:31:26

Nariman Point Loses Charisma

Updated: April 21, 2012 4:42 pm

Nariman Point is rapidly losing its glitter as the prima donna of Mumbai’s real estate. With large number of corporates deserting this iconic central business district (CBD) due to a host of factors, rentals and capital value of commercial real estate are falling each day causing concern among landlords.

As demand for commercial realty is declining sharply at this marquee address, owners are forced to either lease out premises at hefty discounts or exiting the properties before it is too late.

A Delhi-based businessman who has over 4,000 sq ft of office space in one of the Nariman Point buildings for over three decades, has put his entire space on the block as prices have declined from Rs 45,000 a sq ft a year ago to less than Rs 30,000 currently.

There was a time when prices had crossed over Rs 50,000 a sq ft. But those days have gone.

This businessman is not the only one exiting Nariman Point in a hurry, but one can come across several such ceases in each building dotting this south Mumbai landscape.

Every building, whether it be the Maker Chambers, Mafatlal Centre, Dalamal House or Free Press House, has vast amount of unoccupied space and brokers operating here are finding it difficult to get buyers or tenants.

With a changing dynamism, Nariman Point with old buildings built over three decades ago and with high rentals has lost out to Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) as the preferred business address of Mumbai, India’s business capital and one of the marquee businesses addresses in South East Asia.

Analysts believe that the days of Nariman Point are over as BKC provides much better infrastructure and facilities at competitive rates. BKC’s location in a northward-bound city has also worked to its advantage so is its proximity to the airport.

In the past few years front offices of leading corpotrates have shifted to BKC while back office operations have shifted to Powai, Andheri, Vikhroli or Goregaon.

In other words, commercial realty market is looking at north Mumbai and old buildings in Nariman Point are no match to the new-age buildings which have come up in other parts of the city to lure clients.

Mumbai is growing towards the suburbs and the human resource too is moving north. From Andheri the city has expanded to Borivali and now to even Mira Road and thus the importance of Nariman Point has diminished to a large extent reflecting in rentals.

From Rs 450 per sq ft during its peak, per month rental in Nariman Point has dropped to an average of Rs 200 per sq ft now. Express Tower is the only building that is commanding a premium and the current lease rental is Rs 250 per sq ft.

A few months ago Express Tower was fetching Rs 325 per sq ft and rentals have now dropped significantly since then. Express Tower is considered the benchmark in this locality to fix rentals.

To retain its tenants and to attract new one, Express Tower is currently undergoing a facelift and other old buildings are no match.

In sharp contrast, A grade buildings in BKC are easily fetching lease rental of Rs 250 to Rs 275 per sq ft a month. The Parel area with significant lower rentals of Rs 150 to Rs 175 is also attracting some corporates to shift base.

The sharp fall in rentals and capital value in Nariman Point has forced the landlords to rework their strategies. Two large buildings the Air India Building and the Hindustan Unilever House, in the nearby Backbay Reclamation have been waiting to be leased out for several months.

The management of debt-laden Air India, which is mulling over to raise additional money either by leasing out its iconic headquarters at Nariman Point or by selling this off, is perplexed with the drastic value erosion of its property.

 Himachal Pradesh Politics


Himachal Pradesh is on the threshold of assembly election. At the end of this year, the regime of the present government is going to end. BJP is working on “mission repeat” and opposition Congress is looking for “mission delete”. This is going to be quite interesting that which mission will touch the sky. BJP is confident of “mission repeat”. It is focusing on the agenda of development and good governance. Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, presented the budget of the current financial year. The budget has focus on the “aam aadmi”—social security and rural development. Tax-free budget of Himachal Pradesh is a step to repeat the government. But the path is not as smooth as it was earlier is being presented. Himachal Lokhit Party (HPL) is an obstacle for mission repeat. Maheshwar Singh, former MP (RS), State president BJP and MLA, is leading the dissident group of BJP. Former Education Minister and Speaker Radha Raman Shastri, former Minister Shayama Sharma, former Minister Mohinder Nath Sofat, son of BJP MP Rajan Sushant and many BJP annoyed workers are in HLP. Although BJP is confident of no loss from HLP, the situation is not so comfortable for the state BJP. HLP is trying to grill BJP government on issue of corruption but failed to prove the points in front of BJP top leadership. All this hue and cry brought about a shuffle in BJP as Satpal Satti became the state president by replacing Khimi Ram who has been removed but awarded the crown of Cabinet Minister for Forest and Tribal Development.

HLP can cause major damage to BJP in Kullu district. Maheshwar Singh is the the main leader and belongs to the royal family of Kullu. Maheshwar Singh carries a big profile with him. BJP could not afford to remove Khimi Ram, whose new profile is a strategy to appease the people of Kullu. Other leader of HLP is also harmful to BJP with little margins.

But the BJP government is not focusing on this issue directly as sustainable development is the agenda of the government.

The Opposition has started “mission delete” to counter BJP s “mission repeat”. However, Congress is afflicted with graver infighting than that in BJP. Former CM and now Central Minister for MSME Virbhadra Singh is looking for a comeback in state politics and other state Congress leaders are trying to keep him out, hence the situation has become very critical. Virbhadra Singh is the only mass leader in Himachal Congress. Since Virbhadra became Cabinet Minister at the Centre he is grilling his own party for poor performance as the Opposition. Kaul Singh, state Congress chief, has given many pinching statements publicly. Kaul Singh is certifying himself ‘fit’ for CM’s candidature. There are many groups within the party led by Kaul Singh, and Leader of Opposition Vidya Stokes, but the biggest one is of Virbhadra Singh.

Rumours are in the air that HLP is supported by Virbhadra Singh. Less people know that Virbhadra and Maheshwer Singh are relatives. Maheshwer and Virbhadra both deny having any political bonding. Virbhadra is shifting this blame to other leader to spread rumours and Maheshwer is trying to ignite a spark in “mission repeat”.

If we look at the past record, it becomes evident that no third front got success in Himachal except Sukhram’s Himachal Vikas Congress. In 1998 assembly election Sukhram’s HVC got five seats and four out of them became ministers in BJP-HVC coalition government for five years. After that “Mitra Mandal” was formed by Narender Thakur son of former PWD Minister the late Jagdev Chand. BJP lost this election and it was analysed that “Mitra Mandal” caused severe harm. At least 10 seats got affected by this “Mitra Mandal”. Later the dissident group merged back in BJP. In 2007 election Maj. Vijay Singh Mankotia left Congress and joined BSP. His popular CD against Virbhadra and Pratibha Singh wife of Virbhadra is still alive and giving jerks to Virbhadra time to time. This time Maheshwer Singh is in charge and HLP is looking to become the third front in Himachal Pradesh.

Political analysts are predicting no big loss to BJP as HLP will get fragmented before assembly poll. According to analysts perhaps Maheshwer is the only person who can survive his seat with a tough fight.

On the charge of corruption there is no case proved yet and the BJP government has passed public service guarantee act and act to confiscate the property earned by means of corruption. Recently Himachal government prepared a draft of the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Bill, 2012 and put it on public domain for suggestion.

Many charges are labelled against the government but no one succeeds to prove their charges. In assembly Congress made hue and cry on corruption charges but failed to grill the government.

If Virbhadra comes back to state then only there is a chance for Congress. Every one realises this and the government is focusing on the aam aadmi to counter any move. Good governance with sustainable development is the agenda and morale of the government is boosted after getting more than 50 awards over the last more than four years. Dhumal government will take advantage of these awards.

This is an election year—in the month of May MC election is there. Only Municipal Corporation of state is Shimla and this time MC is facing a direct contest for Mayor and Dy. Mayor. This will be a litmus test for both BJP who is ruling in the state and Congress who is ruling on Municipal Corporation of Shimla. This election will start the wave and that will definitely have its impact on assembly election.

Both Congress and BJP are working hard to successfully complete their respective missions. BJP is confident of government’s performance, i.e. pluralistic and pragmatic approach. Party is ready to go to the masses with achievements. Congress believes in the charges of corruption against the government which are not proved yet. And most of Congress men are waiting for the comeback of Virbhadra and some of the other leaders are trying to keep him out. This infighting can fizz out “mission delete”.

Mission repeat or mission delete—this is the question of today but answer is not clear yet. Infighting is in both parties but BJP has the government’s achievements and Congress has not yet cleared its agenda and corruption charges without proving them cannot make any advantage.

 By Saurabh chauhan from Shimla

Eight months ago it was expecting rentals of Rs 400 per sq ft which has since then dropped to around Rs 225-250 due to lack of takers.

Thus the 23-storied building with an estimated 220,000 sq ft space could fetch a maximum of Rs 66 crore as rent per year, provided the whole building is leased out immediately. At Rs 400, the building could have fetched Rs 105 crore rentals in a year.

In a year, the capital value of the Air India Building too has fallen from Rs 2,500 crore to Rs 2,000 crore currently.

The only saving grace is that all tenants except for TCS have moved out from Air India building completed in 1974. The former tenants used to pay historic low rates of few rupees fixed in the 70s, and now the airline can fetch comparatively higher rentals.

Property experts believe that Air India Building is the most premium property in Nariman Point and can attract many buyers at discounted prices.

According to Anuj Puri, chairman & country head, Jones Lang LaSalle India, even though Nariman Point is going down in value, this building could fetch a premium. This building can easily fetch a capital value of Rs 26,000 per sq ft and lot of corporates and private equity funds would be interested to buy it out, Puri said.

The HUL House, the erstwhile headquarters of Hindustan Unilever, has been lying vacant for over 18 months. The company recently renovated this ground plus seven floor building to find a tenant but the process is still on.

HUL has been looking for a rental of Rs 300 per sq ft a month but there has been no luck so far. There is also no buyer for this building estimated at over Rs 500 crore.

The building has a built-up space of 153,000 sq ft on a land parcel measuring 3,994 sq metres and has been done up completely.

But the gloom in the Mumbai commercial property market as well as tough competition from BKC has made it difficult for HUL to find takers.

The problem with HUL is that it does not want to have a deal based on current market rate, but many cannot afford it. Only financial services players or a large asset management company can go for this high-end property.

Despite changing equations, it is premature to write the epitaph of Nariman Point. Due to its legacy and close proximity to centre of power, corporate would still retain office space though in smaller quantity.

Going ahead this location will predominately turn into a financial services hub as all Indian and multinational banks and financial institutions will make it their abode. The correction in realty prices would make it happen.

And no one can underestimate the high net-worth individuals residing nearby in Malabar Hill, Walkeshwar, Nepeansea Road and other wealthy localities of South Mumbai and the mighty Bombay Stock Exchange at a close distance. Even today big corporates like the Tatas and Reliance have not thought of north.

“The dynamism of commercial realty has changed. Nariman Point will not lose its flavour altogether. Large corporates will still retain a maximum of 4,000 to 5,000 sq ft space for presence while a bulk of their office space will be located towards the north,” said Raja Seetharaman, managing director, Aperon Realty, a TCN Worldwide company.

Nariman Point will survive but it will have to reinvent itself as a recreation zone to attract the crowd who could flock there to de-stress themselves from an ever-increasing work schedule in future.

 By Jully Acharya from Mumbai



In Jharkhand


By Gladson Dungdung from Ranchi

The media is known as fourth estate of democracy though it has not been mentioned in the constitutional or legal document. Since, the media plays a role of a watchdog (free, fair and fearless) therefore, it has the legitimacy of being called the fourth estate of the democracy. However, in the era of globalisation, the media is in the hands of few vested interest groups. Today, the Jharkhandi media is one of the crucial examples of how it is being used to protect the vested interest in the state. It is obvious that since the creation of the state, Jharkhandi Media has been battling hard to ensure the corporate interest in the state. After the order of the Jharkhand High Court to enforce the CNT Act in the state, there has been an upheaval in the state. The pro and anti-CNT Act movement started in the state and the Jharkhandi Media also became a party to the anti-CNT Act movement.

There are three kinds of people residing in Jharkhand Adivasis (Indigenous People), Moolvasis (Local Settler non-Adivasis) and Pravasis (Outsiders). According to the Section 46 (A) of the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act 1908, one Adivasi can transfer his land only to another Adivasi resident under same police station with the permission of the Deputy Commissioner (DC). Similarly, the Section 46 (B) of the CNT Act states that the SCs and OBCs can also transfer their land to their community people within the area of district with the permission of the DC. Since the CNT Act had been propagated as a safeguard of only the Adivasis, therefore the land of the SC and OBC people was transferred without any prohibition and the Adivasis’ land was also transferred by misuse of Act. But after the court’s order the land transfer of Adivasis, Dalits and OBCs was stopped in the state, which hit the real estate business, illegal land grab by the corporate houses and illegal land transfer to the outsider individual. Since the media has direct interest in the real estate business, industrialisation and individual land transfer to the outsiders, it became a party to the anti-CNT Act movement.

How is the media party to the anti-CNT Act movement? There are some cases, where the media persons had made arguments with the leaders of pro-CNT Act after the press conferences or protest programmes. Some TV news channels did live coverage of some protests organised by the anti-CNT Act group “Jharkhand Bachao Sangharsh Morch” led by Uday Shankar Ojhar, Niraj Kumar and Bacha Singh. But the same TV news channels did not give much space to the pro-CNT Act protest organised by “Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch” led by Bandhu Tirkey, “Adivasi Chhatra Sangh led by Chamra Linda and “Jharkhand Bachao Andolan’ led by Salkhan Murmu. The newspapers also played a dubious role by giving prominent spaces to the anti-CNT Act protests and special news and views were published against the CNT Act but the same newspapers neglected the pro-CNT Act protests. There are some leading newspapers, which had even engaged special correspondents to find out the cases of violation of CNT Act by the Adivasi and Moolvasi officers, bureaucrats and politicians but at the same time, the same newspapers didn’t publish any story or list of the outsiders who have grabbed the Adivasis’ or Moolvasis’ land illegally.

There are some obvious reasons for the media being party to the anti-CNT Act movement. Firstly, the builders who are engaged in the real estate business in Jharkhand also run TV news channels in the state. For example, Bihar origin builder Sanjay Chaudhary runs the real estate business is Jhakrhand known as the “Kashish Developers”, who has been developing a ‘SAIL CITY’ at Pundag near Ranchi also owns a TV news channel “Kashish News”. Interestingly, the green land of Adivasis and OBCs was acquired in the name of “SAIL Cooperative Society” because the builder cannot buy land under the CNT Act. The builders are also using local police and middle men in acquiring rest of the land for the SAIL CITY. The other builders, who didn’t own TV news channels or newspapers, invest a huge amount of money in the media in forms of advertisements. Therefore, the builders have been doing all kinds of the power politics to make sure that their business does not get hampered. They also use the media to manipulate the public opinions in favour of them. It is obvious that without the support of the builders, many local news channels will be shut down therefore, the media has been batting hard for the real estate business in the name of development of the state because closing down of the real estate business will have a direct impact on revenue loss of the media houses.

Secondly, the media has a clear corporate business interest in the name of development of Jharkhand. For instance, a Jharkhand-based wire rope manufacturing company “Usha Martine Limited” runs mining projects in Saranda Forest and elsewhere of Jharkhand and is also the owner of a leading Hindi newspaper of Jharkhand Prabhat Khabar. The Prabhat Khabar is one of the leading media campaigners for industrialisation in Jharkhand and also carries a campaign against CNT Act with the intention of serving special interests to the outsiders in Jharkhand. The Prabhat Khabar has published a series of stories regarding the violation of CNT Act by the Adivasis and Moolvasis. The papers have also published a series of lists of some Adivasi/Moolvasi government officers, bureaucrats and politicians who have purchased land by violating the CNT Act but the same newspapers didn’t publish any such list of the Pravasis (outsiders) who have grabbed the land of Adivasis and Moolvasis illegally. Why? Can any media house be biased like this? Similarly Dainik Bhashkar which runs many mining projects in Chhattisgarh and other places, has launched its Jharkhand edition a year before, eying the minerals of Jharkhand, and has also been advocating for the corporate model of development, which is against the Jharkhandi culture.

Thirdly, the composition of the Jharkhandi media is self-explanatory to rest of the story. Nearly 90 per cent journalists, engaged in Jharkhandi media houses come from non-Jharkhand origin upper castes. The Hindi dailies and Hindi news channels are completely dominated either by the Bihar or UP origin upper castes journalists and the English dailies have fallen into the clutches of either West Bengal or South-Indian origin upper castes. Similarly, most of the builders, industrialists and individual land grabbers are also outsiders, who have direct or indirect associations with the media. Hence, the media persons bat hard to protect the interest of the outsiders. Though, Jharkhand is known as an Adivasi state but hardly any Adivasi is found in the media. There are few Adivasi and Moolvasi journalists on the last rung of the media, who have also been struggling for their survival, therefore they are not able to influence the media to protect the interest of the state.

Fourthly, though Jharkhand is a separate state on the political map of India, the media treats the state as part of Bihar. There is a tradition of joint TV News channels “Jharkhand-Bihar” in the state. The major regional news channels like Sahara Samay, ETV, Kashis News, News11, Maurya TV, etc, run joint news channels for “Bihar-Jharkhand”. The print media even goes beyond. The every newspaper carries special “Bihar” page in its all editions in Jharkhand. Hence, the people of Bihar origin residing in Jharkhand gets the news of both the states at the same price and the Jharkhandi people are have to pay the price for them and forced to read the news of Bihar. The most stunning thing is the same newspapers do not publish special “Jharkhand” page in their Bihar’s editions though a large number of Jharkhandi people live in Bihar for the jobs. Why is this? Is it not true that the Jharkhandi media serves special interest of Bihar in Jharkhand? Should the media do anything like this merely to serve its business interest? Is the media selling a product in the market or playing a role of a watchdog in society?

The question is where have the media ethics gone in Jharkhand? Why is Jharkhandi media biased instead of being free, fair and fearless? And are the media houses becoming merely the product seller non-ethical companies whose intention is only to earn profit at any cost? Since the inception of the state, the Jharkhandi media has been carrying on anti-Jharkhand campaign to serve the corporate interest and special interest of the Pravasis (outsiders), and the media’s anti-CNT campaign is merely an addition to its anti-Jharkhandi campaign. However, today, the Jharkhandi media needs to rethink about its role for the sake of democracy? The present role of Jharkhandi media is not only against the Jharkhandi people but also against the media ethics, its credibility and democracy as a whole.

(Views are personal)

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