Explained: Why did Gujarat govt tweak rules related to housing in GIFT City?

In order to encourage more people to come and live in the GIFT City, the government decided to change the rules allowing people not working in GIFT City to own a house within the campus.

The Gujarat government, on March 8, tweaked the rules and allowed people not working in Gujarat International Finance Tech-City, popularly known as GIFT City, to own a house built inside the 886-acre campus. It also houses the country’s first International Financial Services Centre.

What led the government to tweak rules regarding housing in GIFT City?

Currently, there are 12,000 people working in 220 units in the GIFT City campus which lies about 30 kilometers away from Ahmedabad and 11 kilometers from the state capital Gandhinagar. Of those working in GIFT City, only a minuscule 300 families currently reside in the campus which has an operational school, club, water connectivity, automatic waste collection system, district cooling system that eliminates the need for air conditioners, among other facilities. These 300-odd families belong to low income groups and reside in the only functional residential project within the campus costing around Rs 10 lakh per unit.

In order to encourage more people to come and live in the GIFT City which is sparsely populated and sees little activity after sunset, the government decided to change the rules allowing people not working in GIFT City to own a house within the campus. The move also expects more real estate developers to come forward to build residential projects.

What was the rule related to housing earlier?

GIFT City has been conceived on the walk-to-work concept. In the beginning, only an individual working in GIFT City could buy a house within the campus. The biggest reason behind the entry barrier for residential schemes was to prevent the project from turning into a real-estate project. About three years ago, this rule was changed for the first time, allowing people not employed in GIFT City to purchase a house. But such persons or families could not reside within the campus.

The Gujarat government that completely owns GIFT City has allowed anyone to buy a house and reside within the campus. However, this relaxation has been capped for the construction of first 5,000 residential units or for those units whose construction begins before March 31, 2023, whichever is earlier. “Buying a house in GIFT City becomes attractive, only if he or she can sell it easily. Secondly, this move will also ensure that there are enough dwelling units ready for occupancy and could be rented to any corporate setting up base in GIFT,” said an official. The March 2021 resolution from the government’s revenue department allows any person or firm to buy houses.

Who are the current residential developers in GIFT City?

Over 25,000 smart homes are proposed to be built in GIFT City which currently overlooks a dry riverbed of the Sabarmati. Most of the residential structures are expected to be vertical development with two, three and four BHK houses measuring 800 to 2,000 square feet. At present, Bengaluru-based Jannadhar Pvt Ltd has the only functional residential unit with 330 units. Sobha Ltd is in the process of building 500-odd 2BHK apartments while Sangath Group is building 150 apartments. Besides these, State Bank of India is planning to build a residential tower for its employees and Savvy Group is also planning to launch a residential scheme.

The prices of 2BHK houses in GIFT City (apart from affordable Jannadhar scheme) ranges between Rs 55-75 lakhs which is slightly higher than the prices of similar schemes in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, say experts.

What are the other challenges for those residing and working in GIFT City?

Though GIFT City became functional about a decade ago, a majority of the residents or the employees use their own personal vehicles to commute to work from their residences in Ahmedabad or Gandhinagar. Officials said that GSRTC runs buses between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad that connect GIFT City, while a few firms also operate private cab or bus service for their employees.

The second phase of Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar metrorail project will provide GIFT City with the much needed mass transportation connectivity, but it will take more than five years for that to happen.

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