Chennai: ECR residents served de-occupation notice for CRZ violation – ET RealEstate

CHENNAI: The city corporation has started serving de-occupation notices to buildings between Neelankarai and Uthandi on East Coast Road that were constructed in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

Resident groups have alleged that this is a vindictive move by Greater Chennai Corporation as residents on the stretch were the ones who had dragged the civic body to court over the construction of a network of stormwater drain channels in the area.

According to a senior official from the Shollinganallur zone (zone 15) of the corporation, under which this area falls, notices had been served to eight buildings in the last few days. Sources said that these notices were sent on December 16 under section 56, sub section 2(A) and 57 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 and the residents were told to vacate the premises within 15 days.

“However, it has nothing to do with the protest and court case against the construction of storm water drains,” the official said. The action was initiated based on a complaint the corporation received regarding unauthorised buildings on the stretch, he added.

The allegedly unauthorised buildings are already the subject of cases in the Madras high court, residents of the area said.

The corporation official said the civic body had identified around 800 buildings which were allegedly constructed in violation of CRZ norms.

In the notices served to the residents, the corporation said the owners of the unauthorised buildings did not produce an approved plan copy in the stipulated time and hence a lock and seal notice was issued.

The residents are currently engaged in a court case with the corporation in the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) over the construction of a storm water drain project in the areas adjoining the beach. The project is being funded by German kfW bank.

In a letter to the bank on December 16, the residents’ collective had alleged that the drain project itself was in violation of the relevant CRZ norms.

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Chennai: With tenants hard to come by, most posh villas along ECR empty – ET RealEstate

CHENNAI: Poor demand from expats and the general drop in real estate demand triggered by the Covid-19 outbreak has hit the market for posh villas in the city, particularly those along the East Coast Road (ECR).

People had invested in villas primarily to cater to expats working in multinational companies in and around Chennai. As most expats have either left the country or moved to core areas of the city, billa owners are now struggling to find tenants. Consequently, a good number of villas are empty.

This has also forced real estate developers to halt new projects as finding buyers has also become a tough task. Most buyers were NRIs, realtors said.

The premium villa segment, which reached great heights in 2012, is losing its sheen with no demand from expats and companies cutting down on housing allowances. The expats population along the ECR has come down from 2,500 to 500 in four years, according to estimates from real estate agents handling rentals for foreigners.

At present, around 60% of the 3,000 villas between Neelankarai and Uthandi on ECR are vacant. Rent for the properties, complete with wide lawns and swimming pools, was previously around ₹1.2 lakh to ₹2.5 lakh a month. Though there are a few inquiries from city residents seeking to shift to these posh properties, deals are yet to materialise since people are not ready to take up houses for such high rents. Owners do not want to reduce the rent because the returns do not justify the investment they have made and also prefer to deal with a company as was the case with expats, rather than individuals.

Moreover, several landlords prefer expats since there is no risk involved in vacating tenants and uninterrupted rent.

Mohan Kartha, a real estate agent who has been dealing with expat rentals for a decade, said the villas market has now become a tenant’s market. “There was a time when the landlord used to have three prospective clients from different MNCs and selected the best. Now, they are ready to revise their rent even by 50%, but cannot find expats. Foreigners who moved to the city early this year are being accommodated in apartments at a cheaper rent in core Chennai,” he added.

Srinivas Anikipatti, senior director – Tamil Nadu & Kerala, Knight Frank India said the prevailing situation on ECR had stopped a leading developer from launching a villa project of 400 plots in Kovalam. “While six in every 100 units sold in the city’s real estate market is a villa, its share in value is 12%,” he added.

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