Bold steps bring J&K closer to world; 50% stamp duty waiver shot in arm for real estate

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The first ever Real Estate Summit held in Jammu in the last week of December, 2021, opened up Jammu and Kashmir for the rest of the world. The summit was organized with an aim to announce that anyone can come forward and invest in the Himalayan region as the biggest impediment in its development i.e. the so-called special status has been revoked.

Till August 5, 2019-when the Centre announced its decision to do away with Article 370, a temporary provision in the Indian Constitution-outsiders were classified as non-permanent residents and were barred from buying immovable property in J&K.

The participants at the Real Estate Summit were informed that under the new J&K Development Act, the term ‘being a permanent resident of the state’ as a criteria to buy immovable property has been omitted to pave the way for investors from outside to invest in the newly carved out Union Territory.

The summit witnessed the signing of twenty Memorandums of Understanding for development of housing projects, seven others for commercial, four for hospitality, three for infra-tech, three for film and entertainment and two for finance related projects.

In order to give a fillip to the real estate sector in Jammu and Kashmir, the Administrative Council headed by J&K Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, recently approved the remission of fifty per cent stamp duty for all first time buyers of real estate in the housing sector for a period of two years.

Waiving of 50 per cent stamp duty is an added advantage for buyers who want to invest in the housing sector in the erstwhile princely state as no place in the country offers such an incentive. This move is all set to attract more investors into Jammu and Kashmir.

After the revocation of J&K’s special status, things have moved at a very fast pace. Despite Covid-19 wreaking havoc the government has remained committed and steadfast in its resolve to pull out the erstwhile princely state from the quagmire of uncertainty.

The helmsmen have focused on all the sectors that could generate employment and provide people with a chance to raise their standards of living. Real estate is the globally recognised sector of development. It is well complemented by the growth in the corporate environment and the demand for office space as well as urban and semi urban accommodations.

The construction industry ranks third among the 14 major sectors in terms of direct, indirect and induced effects in all sectors of the economy. The real estate sector has four sub sectors like housing, retail, hospitality and commercial. In India, the real estate sector is the second highest employment generator, after the agriculture sector.

As the pandemic is coming to an end and life is returning to normal the government is trying its best to ensure that new projects envisaged for J&K after the scrapping of Article 370 are expedited to turn the Union Territory into a model region for the entire country.

The changes in J&K land laws have led to many people from other states and countries expressing their willingness to invest in the Himalayan region. They have gauged that investing in Jammu and Kashmir is worthwhile.

Peace perquisite for development

After August 5, 2019, the terrorism in the Himalayan region has been at its lowest ebb as the security forces have torn apart the terrorist and separatist networks that were instrumental in fomenting trouble and turning J&K into a volatile zone. Despite losing the 30-year long proxy war, Pakistan has not given up; it’s still trying its best to radicalize Kashmiri youth and push foreign ultras into the Union Territory. But the security forces are maintaining an upper hand and are not allowing the terrorists to succeed in their nefarious designs. Peace is a prerequisite for development and it has almost returned to strife torn region.

Terrorism has not been wiped off completely but it’s on its last legs as the natives seem no more interested in supporting the terror networks and the separatists. Kashmir not witnessing any shutdowns and street protests during the past two years have proven beyond doubt that trouble and hate mongers have been pushed to the wall and have been left with no room.

The situation has become conducive for outsiders to come and invest in J&K as the threat of Pakistan and the terrorists sponsored by it is almost over. The new dawn has broken out in J&K as the gloom has disappeared and the sun has started shining.

Creating real estate stock

On February 2, 2022, the J&K Government approved the transfer of 2318 Kanal land in seven villages at 17 locations in Srinagar and Budgam districts, in favour of the Housing & Urban Development Department (H&UD) for construction of housing colonies.

The move will give a push to the housing sector. The project is expected to play a very important role in the economic, industrial, social, and cultural development of J&K. It aims at providing direct employment to skilled/unskilled labour as well as indirect employment to local vendors and youth, besides ensuring the development of local areas to meet the rising housing demand.

The Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) and J&K Housing Board (JKHB) have been assigned the task of finalizing the type designs and other modalities of these projects with a special focus on developing affordable housing on these land parcels. Once these projects are completed, these will act as housing stocks in Srinagar and Jammu.

Dramas have no audience

Soon after the new law came into force the Kashmir based parties, including National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and others, tried to enact yet another drama by claiming that J&K has been put on sale and the new act would lead to disempowerment of natives. But their hue and cry didn’t find any takers either in Jammu or in Kashmir.

People have realized that Article 370 only provided privileges and special status to politicians and not to the common man. They have become a part of the change and are endorsing all the decisions being taken by the government to make their lives easier and provide them with the opportunities which they missed for 70-long years.

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