Quality housing first. Cutting-edge infotech later. That seems to be the new mantra for the Chandrababu Naidu government, as hi-tech Hyderabad comes scouting for knowledge on social housing in the land of the new Left.
A six-member delegation of the Andhra Pradesh Housing Board (APHB) is in town to study West Bengal’s “hugely successful” public-private partnership model in housing, and weigh the possibilities of replicating the same chemistry back home.
“Bengal has been the pioneer in joint-sector social housing and we are here to try and find out how the marriage works so well,” said M. Rajeshwar Rao, APHB chairman. Rao and his team met West Bengal Housing Board (WBHB) officials on Wednesday, besides representatives from a couple of key private partners.
“Our chief minister has identified housing as a major thrust area and we are keen to comprehend the terms and conditions laid down by the WBHB for the private partners,” explained Rao. The chairman will submit a report on the Bengal experience to the APHB board of directors and Naidu on his return.
The Andhra sextet, which visited Udayan, The Condoville of Bengal Ambuja Housing Development Ltd during the day, will make a trip to Rajarhat on Thursday to survey the site of Bengal Shrachi Housing Development Ltd’s Greenwood Park project, another joint-sector effort. “We will meet Peerless and the other private partners too,” confirmed delegation coordinator T.S.V. Ratnam.
The interest evinced by the “progressive state” has also enthused WBHB’s private associates. “It’s a matter of great pride that we have been able to create a model that excites other states. It means there is a private sector answer to social housing. They want us to explore possibilities in Andhra. We will surely assess the proposal,” said Harshavardhan Neotia, managing director, Bengal Ambuja.
Bengal Shrachi MD Rahul Todi, who met the visiting team on Wednesday, is keen to participate in APHB projects. “We will be glad to consider offers, since in this joint-sector formula, the consumer gets the best of both worlds,” he said.
APHB has a landbank of 2,000 acres in and around Hyderabad, and has engaged construction giants from Malaysia and Singapore in its bid to add “at least 2,000 dwelling units” every year. “We want to invite big developers from Bengal to the buoyant Andhra market, where they can compete with global giants,” summed up Rao.