What are the major on-going projects under the Raheja Developers banner
The biggest project that we are currently working is on Navin Minar, in West Delhi which is the first slum rehabilitation project in northern India in a Public Private Participation format. We are working with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on this project. It sets out to realign the lives of over 16,000 slum dwellers presently residing on the 12.50 acres plot. There is no doubt that Navin Minar will be the most iconic and desirable development in New Delhi. There is simply no structure like it in entire Delhi.
What kind of modern technologies are being used in the construction of Navin Minar?
There are several tools which are being used to make Navin Minar a green project, such as an effort to harness maximum daylight. Hundred per cent storm water is being captured for recycling. High efficiency lighting has been used. Other highlights are zero discharge building, drip irrigation, using native and low-water consuming plants, recycling of sewage, solar water heating and doubly glazed tinted windows for cutting out the sun’s sharp glare.
Any other ongoing projects?
Raheja OMA, located on the NH-8 in Dharuhera is another on-going project. It offers a feel of international living, entertainment and wellness destination with spa homes. It has options for low-rise living (Sansara Residences) as well as the iconic high-rise, Akasha Tower. Raheja Atlantis in Gurgaon is now ready to move in and is one of our premium residential offerings. Otherprojects include Raheja Vedaanta floors, Raheja Atharva, Raheja Navodya, Raheja Raisina and many other projects which are taking shape in Gurgaon. We literally have a new project coming up every month.
What kind of response have you received from buyers? Are people keen on investing in realty at the moment, considering the economy is a bit slow?
We have seen a good response for all our offerings. At Raheja we believe that if the product is top notch and you complete your projects in time to give customers possession at the promised date, people are willing to invest. If builders don’t keep their promises and delivery is delayed then they are bound to suffer. Reasonable rates, delivery and quality of construction have a huge impact on the selling of houses and a good housing project will never suffer if they get these three right.
It has been reported that malls in Delhi/NCR at the moment have a 50 per cent occupancy figure as ent rates are shooting up and retailers can’t afford to pay the demanded rent? What do you think is the reason for this?
Twenty years back no one could have imagined malls in India and the great footfalls that they command. India is growing and malls and other commercial spaces will continue to grow as well. The problems that I see are those of over-pricing, over-supply and non-strategic location of the mall which results in low footfall. Good malls located in strategic locations are all on full occupancy and doing well. However, impractically designed or placed malls will obviously have trouble getting buyers. So it’s not economy that is driving people or retailers away, but reasons such as bad location or design of the mall.
Are you looking at expanding your work in other states?
We do plan to do so, however, at the moment there’s so much that’s happening in Gurgaon itself that it would not be possible soon. Raheja Developers has the largest inventory of sanctioned projects that are yet to be executed.
Builders are commonly perceived to be at odds with the country’s natural reserves. However, you are an avid wildlife enthusiast. How did this happen?
My love for the wildlife and everything that it entails dates back to the days when I was a kid. My initiation to wildlife happened when we were living in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh and I still remember hearing the calls of the jackals in the evening, as the sun would set in the mountains. Since our house was surrounded by jungles, we would often see mountain bears. My father influenced my love for the wildlife, in fact, a lot of credit goes to my father for bringing me so close to nature and wildlife. He would take us for walks in the jungle, bring home animal droppings and would make us guess if it belonged to a male or a female animal - so all this had a huge effect on me and my attachment to the wild only grew from that. I can’t stay away from the jungles and have to make trips at least once every month.
As far as travels go, you are someone who can afford to go anywhere in the world? So why run back to the jungle all the time?
I can’t explain it, but it is my home in the real sense of the word. One way to explain is that I belong to the jungles and I have to come to the concrete spaces to work. Staying in the jungles keeps my sane and going back there is my way of dealing with stress and anxiety.
Which is your favourite wildelife destination?
Corbett National Park holds a special place in my heart, not just because it is a beautiful forest, but I have very fond memories of that place. The first time I visited Corbett was with my brother and we stayed at the Dhikala Forest Guesthouse. I remember we parked our scooter and were walking in search of wild animals, hoping to spot an elephant or a deer. We didn’t think of the danger it entailed. So here we were on foot, looking out for wildlife when we heard for the first time, the roar of a tiger. Obviously it did not appreciate our presence in its home. That was the loudest roar that I had ever heard and we got so scared that we had no idea how to get back to the scooter. After that incident, I have been going back to the Corbett park whenever I have had the chance.