BANGALORE: He’s quite the millennial Sherlock Holmes, subjecting documents to incisive analysis. Fake rubber-stamp impressions, faked signatures and forged handwriting — nothing escapes 26-year-old Phaneendar BN’s hawk-eye.
These days, given the realty boom, property owners and buyers queue up in large numbers at his Manipal Centre office on Dickenson Road. As do representatives of nationalized banks. This forensic handwriting expert checks property documents and spots the spurious ones. He also cracks cases of forgery of vital documents.
“I became curious about handwriting analysis at the age of 21 when I received an abusive, threatening letter. I went to persons who claimed to be handwriting experts. But no one in Bangalore could help me. I decided to take up forensic studies and began training with a self-proclaimed expert only to realize he was a fake. I went to Delhi and worked under a reputed forensic expert, VC Mishra, for two years. I’ve expertise in questioned document examination, a branch of forensic science which deals with the authenticity of documents,” Phaneendar says.
In 2009, Phaneendar moved to Bangalore. Keen on working independently, he set up his office here. His first client was a techie from an MNC who had received an abusive letter. He helped her find out that the sexually abuse mail had been written by her immediate boss.
Phaneendar uses Indian Institute of Science labs for document tests. “I can determine the age of the ink, signatures taken on a blank paper before filling it up with the matter, coloured photocopied documents that are passed off as original ones and such other frauds by directing ultraviolet light, transmitted light and oblique light on the documents. When I work on a crime scene, say a suicide note, I don’t need to know the case background as the note reveals everything,” he says.
As Phaneendar’s fame spread, various courts commissioned him in 18 cases so far to help them find out the authenticity of documents and for handwriting analysis.
Phaneendar doesn’t deal with the legality of the contents of the document he examines. But his examination is impartial and there are instances where his findings have adversely affected his clients. Anyone who seeks his services signs this declaration: “There is no promise from the expert that the examination results will be in my favour.”
Phaneendar says that, according to the rule book, even sub-registrars have no right to question the authenticity of the documents and because of this faking and forging of documents is only increasing.
Beyond forensic analysis, Phaneendar finds time for his other passion – playing the tabla. He is the fifth Indian to be an active member of the International Association for Identification, a reputed body in forensic science. He’s also guest faculty for MSc in Forensic Science at Jain College.
* A woman committed suicide in a North Karnataka town. She had moved away from her husband and come to her parents’ home where she committed suicide. A note scribbled on her left hand was considered her suicide note and using it, police sent her husband and in-laws to prison. The court questioned the authenticity of the note and commissioned Phaneendar to check if was genuine. He deduced that the handwriting on her hand and in the FIR were the same. It was then confirmed that the woman’s brother had scribbled the note on her hand after her death. The husband and in-laws are out on bail.
* A commercial complex in Koramangala was sold by a real estate player to an individual who suspected there was some problem with the documents after inking the deal. Phaneendar found that fake stamp papers were used to create property documents. A stamp paper was superimposed on a white sheet to create a fake stamp paper.
* In late 2012, a man raised a loan of Rs 32 lakh from a co-operative bank in Cubbonpet. He went missing after paying Rs 8 lakh. The bank approached Phaneendar with the documents pledged by the borrower and he found that the documents were scanned copies of the original. The man had used scanned copies of the same property document to pledge it with two other nationalized banks.
* A nationalized bank in Doddaballapur recently received a request for a cheque book from an account holder. It was issued and delivered through post. The postman received a call saying the account holder was not at home because of official work and the cheque book would be collected elsewhere. On March 18, 19 and 22, Rs 4.16 lakh were withdrawn through four cheques. The account holder came to the bank and said he hadn’t even applied for a cheque book. The bank officials who cleared the cheques were in trouble. The bank sought the help of Phaneendar, who certified that the account holder had indeed made a request for the cheque book. The bank is now moving court against him.
BANGALORE: Deadlines would have come and gone. Still many Bangaloreans are clueless about rainwater harvesting (RWH), though it is compulsory to have it in most residential plots, with conservation of water being the buzzword. With supply of Cauvery river water to the city from KRS dam threatening to be reduced to a trickle soon, and no alternatives visible in the long-term, there is a sense of urgency to adopt rainwater harvesting. But residents of Bangalore are sparing little thought to it, and are instead paying through their nose to buy private tanker water and cribbing about it later.
Asked why she has not installed RWH, Mukhteshwari J, homemaker from Rajarajeshwarinagar, said: “I have not heard about it. It seems to be a fairly new concept. How do we do it and is there any rule which compels us to make arrangements?”
When TOI reporter explained the concept, she replied: “We have to get hold of plumbers, undertake works for days to set up a sump and fit additional pipes to collect rainwater from the rooftop. Who has the time to monitor all this?”
Usha Srinath candidly admitted that it is easy to dial an agency to get a water tanker and spend Rs 3,000 a month than build a sump and store rainwater. “I require water tankers every three days. I don’t have the infrastructure to store rainwater like a sump or a tank on my roof or in the garden. All I have to do is dial up the tanker agent and he will get me water anytime of the day,” she told TOI.
Dasarahalli, Peenya, HRBR Layout, KR Puram and Whitefield are becoming deserts of sorts with most people not getting piped water supply and borewells, the only source of water, drying up. Here too there is an apathetic attitude towards installing RWH among the residents who are either very poor or belong to upper middle class.
“I haven’t yet thought of installing RWH in my house because the consumption is very little. I live with my ailing father and a servant but who will help me find the right person and ensure that I am not charged more than the market rate?” said Reshma Kaur, senior citizen from Borewell Road in Whitefield.
BANGALORE: Flying into Bangalore never elicited much awe when compared to flying into cities like Mumbai, Singapore or New York, as the country’s IT capital never had a skyline to showcase. That, now, may become a thing of the past.
Unlike Mumbai where real estate developers had to go for vertical high-rise structures due to the lack of space, Bangalore , which has abundance of space, lacked a distinct highrise culture until now.
Homebuyers who have traditionally been used to apartment complexes of ground plus seven floors or ground plus 15 floors, can now look forward to apartments towering 40-storeys high. Still, the city’s high-rises would be a far cry from those seen in Mumbai, which has under construction residential developments that are 60-storeys high. Mumbai has over 35 residential complexes—both under-construction and completed–which are 40 floors and above.
“At the end of the day there is a certain snob value in saying I live on the thirtieth floor or fortieth floor. The concept is new in Bangalore and developers want to cash in on that lifestyle of staying in high-rises ,” says Ram Chandnani, deputy MD (South India), CBRE South Asia, a global real estate consultancy company.
Mantri DSK Pinnacle, located off Bannerghatta Road, is a 46 storey high residential development that features a sky lounge and an observatory. Water’s Edge by Mumbaibased developer Equinox, located across the Nagavara Lake in Hebbal, has five 40-storey residential blocks, all of which have a view of the lake. Sobha Developers has just launched a new project in Rajajinagar , Sobha Indraprastha, a 37-storey residential cum commercial development that sports of a 12,500-sqft club house on the last two floors with an temperature controlled infinity pool on the thirty seventh floor.
Of course, for the homebuyers high-rises don’t come cheap. Most of the big highrise developments sport a premium to luxury tag with apartment prices starting from Rs 2 crore onwards. Typically, developers charge anywhere between Rs 25 to Rs 100 per sqft more for every floor rise depending on the project specifications and amenities.
“Once people start to experience a better lifestyle in going vertical such as less noise, less pollution, better views and more privacy, they become important factors when buying an apartment,” says J C Sharma , MD, Sobha Developers.
High-rises also allow developers to package their projects with more green space, parks and other amenities. “Just by going vertical as a developer you get more open space at the bottom, which adds value to the project ,” says Irfan Razack, CMD, Prestige Estates Projects. He adds that high-rise apartments give 80% to 85% more open space/green space than regular mid to low-rise apartments.
For example on a 10-acre plot if a developer plans for a vertical high-rise (above 30 floors) then the developer would only be using up roughly 2-acres leaving eight acres as open space.
High-rises also have a great appeal among the young home buyers below the age of 35 years,” says Sushil Mantri, CMD, Mantri Developers. He says that 10 years ago in Bangalore the industry norm was 12-storey apartments, which today has risen to 20-storey apartments.
Much of the new high-rise culture is also born out of the change in the CDP (City Development Plan) in the last five years that allows developers to go vertical. “World over, be it in New York, Singapore, Tokyo or Dubai, high-rises have been the norm and now that the city’s by-laws allow for highrises , developers are fast catching on to the trend,” says Farook Mahmood, CMD, Silverline Group.
BANGALORE: Full-speed trials on the Peenya-Sriramapuram stretch of Namma Metro’s northern line are set to begin from June 10. They will be extended up to Sampige Road Metro Station by July 8.
These trials allow the rakes to run up to their full speed of 80kmph, thereby testing track strength and distance brake systems of the rakes. Oscillation trials, as these trials are also called, will require each train to travel 750km each from one end to the other and clear all braking and speed tests.
The Peenya-Sampige Road line was slated to begin operations in mid-2013, but a host of issues delayed the work. This was supposed to be the second stretch of Namma Metro to become functional. However, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) officials are non-committal on when the operations will begin.
The 9.9km Peenya-Sampige Road stretch consists of Reach 3 (Yeshwantpur-Sampige Road) and Reach 3A (Peenya-Yeshwantpur). There will be 10 stations on the stretch. Work is afoot on further extension on this corridor – Reach 3B – between Peenya and Hesaraghatta.
Namma Metro is still waiting for two more technical clearances at the Peenya depot, including one on exemption from provision of check rails, which are used in curves. The irony is that until the check rail clearance is received, BMRC can’t begin oscillation trials between Peenya depot and Sampige Road stations. The approvals are expected to come from Railway Design and Standards organization (RDSO), headquartered in Lucknow. BMRC has sent proposals to the Railway Board through the commissioner of railway safety.
Civil work, however, continues to meander on the northern corridor. According to BMRC, 78% of civil work is over in Yeshwantpur, Soap Factory and Mahalakshmi Layout stations, while 74% of work has been completed in Rajajinagar, Kuvempu Road and Srirampuram stations. Granite flooring, and electrical and mechanical fittings are under way. Spans totaling up to a length of 66 metre have been laid over railway lines at Srirampuram. However, three spans between six piers are yet to be laid between Yeshwantpur and Peenya.
BANGALORE: The district lake protection committee, as made mandatory by the high court to monitor the activity around city lakes, might soon become a reality if the Lake Development Authority (LDA) has its way.
It may be recollected that exactly a year ago, the Karnataka high court passed an unprecedented judgement in a PIL filed by ESG directing the state government to constitute District Lake Protection Committees to oversee protection and rehabilitation of lakes and their Raja Kaluves (canals) on a war footing. A year later, the state is yet to constitute these regulatory committees, and pollution and encroachment of lakes continues unabated.
In a workshop organized on ‘Rejuvenating Lakes, Rivers and Wells to make Bangalore Water Secure’ by the Environment Support Group (ESG) in the city recently, LDA officials said that they will take up the matter with the chief secretary and ensure that this body is formed at the earliest. LDA officials rued the zero co-ordination from the state Revenue department and said they have been unable to prevent encroachment of lakes, which is rampant everywhere, mostly because of no support from the Revenue department. Also, officials admitted that a lot of fudging in the lake boundary co-ordinates has taken place and this is not helping their cause either.
“We have written to the chief secretary a number of times for the formation of the committee but have not heard from his office yet. We will pursue this soon after the elections,” said a senior LDA official.
The workshop took into account people’s woes who have no choice but to depend on groundwater for their daily needs. With a sharp dip in groundwater levels, there is a frenzy of sinking new borewells, but water is hard to find. Water merchants are exploiting this situation as the government is failing to step in and regulate, buying a tanker of water which was Rs 250 a few months ago has now crossed Rs 500 in most areas.
As always, the poor are the worst sufferers.
“This is an unfortunate fallout for a city that grew by leaps and bounds over the past five centuries entirely by harvesting rain water in tanks/lakes. These lake series have been systematically polluted, encroached and destroyed over the past three decades, resulting in the current crisis. Ground water levels are depleting, even as much of the water extracted is unpotable and require expensive treatment,” said Bhargavi S Rao of ESG.
“There are some policies which we know are wrong. Then there are Science gaps which we still don’t understand as are policy gaps wherein we don’t know how to do certain things, all this is impacting our understanding of water scarcity and inadequate infrastructure,” said Veena Srinivasan, research project author at ATREE.
BANGALORE: Bangalore-based real estate company Valmark Group is launching its first Bangalore-focused real estate private equity fund, signaling the return of risk capital to the beleaguered sector.
The Rs 125 crore Valmark Infra and Realty Trust will look to invest in the southern city’s residential space, with returns expected at a minimum of 15%. The fund, which expects to make between four and six transactions, will look to stay invested for a period of between three and five years.
“Given the velocity shown in the space, we expect returns to be between 24% and 30%, and which could go up to 36%. If we don’t see good exit opportunities, we will look to stay invested for an additional two years,” Jaswant Munoth, the investment manager for the fund, told ET
The average investment ticket size will range between Rs 25 and Rs 30 crore, according to Valmark Group managing director Ratan Lath.
“Our understanding of the Bangalore residential market is better than a number of the other premier real estate markets around the country. The average commitment that we are looking for is about Rs 1 crore,” Lath said.
The Valmark Group currently has 1.8 million square feet of projects under execution across Bangalore. It has entered into joint ventures with a number of well-known real estate developers, including, the Brigade Group, Embassy Property Developments, K. Raheja Corp, Nitesh EstatesBSE 3.46 %, and UnitechBSE 2.22 %.
“We have already committed Rs 25 crore to Indya Estate’s upcoming apartment project called ‘The Greens.’ We have several other proposals under discussion at the moment, and expect to have the entire fund corpus deployed nine months from now,” Munoth said.
It is into development of residential apartments, shopping malls, hotels, commercial office spaces and integrated townships in and around Bangalore and in second-tier cities like Mysore. The company has a land-bank of over 500 acres.
Private equity has made a cautious return to investing in the country’s residential real estate sector, with risk capital majors Kotak Realty and India InfolineBSE 1.08 % consummating deals since the January this year.
2013, so far, has seen a total of $137 million (Rs 739.2 crore) raised by real estate-focused private equity funds. In 2012, eight funds raised a total of $1.8 billion, according to Venture Intelligence.
BANGALORE: A mismatch between demand for retail space and supply is growing worse in the south of India, with a projected increase of 100% by 2014, as developers continue to build malls in a saturated market. Bangalore for instance will have 27.602 million square feet of operating space — an oversupply of 141% over the next two years. Similarly, Hyderabad will have 18.853 million sq ft of mall space leading to a potential 114% oversupply by 2014.
However, bigger markets like greater Mumbai and Delhi NCR will keep pace with the demand, says Asipac, retail planning consultancy firm.
“The upcoming supply will outpace the demand with 30.053 million sq ft of demand hitting the market as against supply of 56.399 million sq ft by 2014,” said Amit Bagaria, chairman, Asipac Projects. South India has about 50 million sq ft of operational mall space across 130-odd malls.
Builders including Sobha Developers, Prestige Estates Projects, Suraj Developers, and Century Real Estate have either launched or are in the process of launching mall projects.
The mismatch has led to rental rates staying f lat or increasing just marginally, going up between 4% and 9% for city centre locations in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai in 2012.
“There is pressure on rentals in malls that do not have footfalls,” says Shrinivas Rao, CEOAsia Pacific, Vestian Global.
The excess supply of retail space is further expected to benefit retailers who are looking at increasing their presence. “We are renegotiating rentals for stores where lease or lock-in periods are ending,” said Mark Ashman, CEO HyperCITY Retail India. The company plans to take its store count to 20-24 by 2016 from 13 now spread over 30,000 to 50,000 sq ft.
Louis Philippe, the apparel brand from Madura Fashion & Lifestyle is being choosy signing new properties and is looking to tie up with successful malls only. “Oversupply will lead to failure of malls and brands. We are very selective in our approach and see brand mix, mall developers and catchment before signing the property,” said Jacob John brand head at Louis Philippe.
Asipac estimates that out of 175 operational malls across India, only 30 are performing, while the rest are running at a loss. It further says that top 20 cities in the country can absorb per capita mall space between 1 sq ft and 1.5 sq ft depending on the economic growth projections. However currently it is below 1 sqft for all metros.
Once the proposed Peripheral ring road (PRR) is in place, destinations like Whitefield, Electronic city, Koramangla etc will be within a travel time of 20-30 minutes. It is expected to connect the various business- residential districts of Bangalore without having to travel through the current traffic mess.
This has proved to be a boom time for Township developers. Thanks to the growing interest in the city-within-a-city concept, the number of buyers investing in this segment has reported a significant growth resulting in marked increase in price.
Take the case of Bhartiya City for instance, when they announced the project last year the launch price for Phase I was at about Rs. 3870 per sq ft basic price. The current basic price is estimated at about Rs. 4220 per sq ft, in just about 5 months.
“We released 800 units in Phase 1 which were sold out in a couple of weeks,” said Arjun Aggarwal, CEO, Bhartiya City. “In January we further released 510 units as phase II. These too are almost sold out. A strong interest in the project continues. We have had huge amount of enquiries and appetite for the product which continues to have a strong absorption. There is a waiting list today for particular type of apartments far exceeding the total number of units being offered in Nikoo Homes. ‘’
“Once you take a prospective buyer to any of these Townships, you are sure of a booking. Our only effort goes in getting the buyer to these sites,” observes Sanath Jairam, Proprietor, SJ Realty Consultants. “Typically the launch price ranges from Rs 27 lakh to upwards of Rs 2 crore and within a matter of 6 months the property has appreciated by a minimum of about 20 per cent.”
Aggarwal attributes this boom in Township development to the desire for better infrastructure and planning from the consumer end. “Unlike other major cities around the world like London, New York and Singapore, where commuting and infrastructure is government prerogative and is efficiently managed, in India, the onus to provide a similar efficient environment is on the private sector by imbibing contemporary trends of modern global cities,” states Aggarwal.
Source: Times Of India Publish: 25-March-2013
BANGALORE: This could be one of the biggest real estate rip-offs. The victims are owners of sites in I Block, Sir M Visvesvaraya Layout, western Bangalore. At least 57 plots developed by the BDA are in a limbo as their titles have allegedly been snatched from the owners.
The BDA denotified a 10-acre plot of land and conferred the ownership on two individuals . The land is described as “muffet kaval” (literally, free forest land, but something akin to grazing land), meaning government owned . But the denotification ended up vesting the ownership with the two individuals.
BDA sources informed TOI the denotification committee of the BDA board had rejected the application for denotification of the land in 2006, stating that it was required for the layout.
The BDA allegedly kept the site owners in the dark about the fate of their titles. Five of the affected site owners have now approached the Karnataka High Court. They say they were sold the plots during 2003-05. After this, the BDA demanded, and received, tax from most owners.
The site owners then heard rumours that attempts were being made to sell their sites. A couple of them, posing as prospective buyers, contacted brokers operating in the area. They were taken to their own sites and told a 50×80 site would cost no less than Rs 1 crore.
In February, a site owner filed RTI applications with the BDA. Documents obtained a few days ago revealed that the BDA had denotified 7 acres in favour of KV Nagarathnamma on June 20, 2006, and 3 acres in favour of Purohit Jugaraj in September 2007.
BDA concealing names, says affected site owner
‘Documents Say Denotification In Favour Of 2 Persons’
Says a doctor who is among the 57 affected site owners: “The preliminary notification to acquire 12 acres 13 guntas of survey number 20 of Nagadevanahalli termed the land ‘muffet kaval’ in 1989. In the 1994 final notification to acquire the land, the ownership still belonged to the government as it was described as ‘muffet kaval’ . The denotification documents also mention the khatedar/anubhavdar as ‘muffet kaval’ . But the documents say the denotification has been done in favour of two individuals.”
The doctor says the BDA is not revealing the identity of the owners of all the 57 plots. Houses have come up on two of these plots. Major Srikala C, whose 80×50 plot is among the affected sites, said: “Initially, we thought that the land had been given back to the original owner. But now, we’ve learnt that the land belonged to the government itself. This is criminal. Why are the original site allottees being kept in the dark?”
The Karnataka high court has issued notices to the government, BDA and the two beneficiaries of the land denotification.
BANGALORE: Faced with its worst crisis, a desperate Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board (BWSSB) kicked off Save Water campaign. Its focus of conservation is the privileged people, who the board feels, should use water judiciously so that others are not deprived of it.
“With no proper monsoon since last summer, there’s little water in the reservoirs and the responsibility to share Cauvery water with Tamil Nadu have put us in a crisis. We appeal to people to use water judiciously so that someone else is not deprived of drinking water,” said Gaurav Gupta, chairman, BWSSB.
Experts insist that conservation is the key to avert crisis. “It’s important to change traditional norms of water consumption like using 3-litre flush tanks instead of 6-litre ones, ensuring that running water used while washing cars drain into a rainwater harvest pit, no taps are kept open and leakages are plugged,” said V Vishwanath, principal architect, Rain Water Club.
The gains are many. For instance, about 5,000 cars are washed daily at service centres, sending 3,75,000 litres of water down the drain. Washing a car at home may require 15-25 litres and you can even harvest 15-18 litres if you have a harvesting pit.
Media ads, radio jingles, TV clips, banners and pamphlets will be used during the month-long BWSSB campaign. There’ll be public interaction on March 23 at Rain Water Harvesting Theme Park in Jayanagar. People are being invited to visit water treatment plants at Cubbon Park and Yelahanka. “We’re also writing to government offices, industries (both government and private) and commercial establishments to adopt water conservation concepts, plug internal leakages in their pipelines and not to use sprinklers at gardens,” a BWSSB official said.
Another impending water crisis, another knee-jerk reaction. That best sums up the administration’s efforts in managing civic woes. Like the garbage crisis, this time too the administration waited till the problem loomed large enough and seemed impossible to contain. Radio jingles and pamphlet distribution work at best as cosmetic measures. What is imperative is to protect water resources and recharge ground water. Buildings have come up where lakes once stood. Construction activity, which is the one of the biggest water guzzlers, is rampant during summer. While conservation efforts are necessary, so is a constructive public mindset.