Faster single-window clearances for urban projects by Nov-end

The Centre will put in place a “single-window” clearance mechanism by month-end to facilitate faster and easier approvals for urban development projects, urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday.

“By November 30, we will be bringing out a notification on easy approvals (for urban development projects) … a single-window clearance is also in the offing,” Naidu said at the National Strategy Day in India summit organised by the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). “I am going to allow urban development bodies to use the money given by me as seed capital so that they can get finance from banks.”

The government was willing to address “all the hurdles” plaguing the sector and it would take all steps to ensure that there are no delays in approvals, he said, adding, discussions on the issue have already been held with other ministries including environment, civil aviation, defence, consumer affairs and culture.

Naidu also said there are plans to come out with city-wise special purpose vehicles for each project — an idea that was mooted considering the difficulties faced by public private partnership projects.

The government aims to provide ‘housing for all’ by 2022 and has kicked of the process for setting up 100 smart cities.

All measures are being taken to sensitise urban development bodies in relation to clearances, transparency and accountability, Naidu said.

Large hypermarket chains, including HyperCity, Big Bazaar and Star Bazaar, may soon come to your neighbourhood, but in small formats.

The move aims to boost the retail sector, which has been hit by the global slowdown, and comes at a time many startups are providing hyperlocal services.

Shoppers Stop-owned HyperCity plans to open such stores in cities such as Bangalore, to go closer to customers who may not want to travel far to shop at a supermarket for daily groceries.

Future Retail-owned Big Bazaar and Tatas-owned Star Bazaar are also scaling up through small-format stores, an area dominated by about 10 million kirana stores.

HyperCity had restructured its big-box hypermarket business by paring down store sizes from 50,000-100,000 square feet to 30,000. It now sees scope for a neighbourhood format of more compact stores, which will stock groceries, vegetables and fruits, Shoppers Stop MD Govind Shrikhande said. “If express format has to be successful it has to be standalone and not inside a mall, as it’s only a topup format where a customer’s ticket size is lower compared to a monthly shopping cycle.”

Similarly, Future Retail plans to open 4,000 stores across formats such as Nilgiris, Easyday and KB’s Fair Price by 2021. The Kishore Biyani-owned firm acquired the Nilgiris convenience store chain last year, and also merged Future Retail with Bharti Retail, which operates Easyday stores.

Others, including Tataowned Trent, which runs hypermarkets under the Star Bazaar, is expanding smaller Star Daily. The company plans to add 300-400 stores in the next few years, sources said. Reliance Retail is also expanding its Reliance Fresh stores. It currently has 616 stores, including Reliance Fresh convenience stores and bigger Reliance Marts, across India.

Source: Hindustan Times
Dated: 5th November 2015

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