Chandigarh Housing Board's scheme to rent out booths fails its own test

  • Aarish Chhabra, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: May 15, 2015 11:31 IST

Much ado about nothing much — that’s been the fate of the Chandigarh Housing Board’s (CHB) first-ever attempt to give out its 142 unsold booths and other shops on monthly rent. Over a week after the last date of bid submission, the board has not found anyone out of the 1,060 bids worthy on its primary criterion of rent assessment. Only four banks’ offers are being considered for, say, two booths each, for ATMs.

Even though it had not given any starting bid or minimum rate in its April 5 advertisement, the CHB eventually compared the bids with rent calculated as per the central public works department (CPWD) manual, which in some cases was 10 times the market rate! This meant that even if the bids in some cases were higher than the market rate, these were not selected.

This was the first time the CHB sought to take the rent route after failing to find takers for these booths specifically on long-term leasehold basis in several auctions in the past decade. The last date for putting the rent bids in sealed envelopes in a box at the CHB office was May 5, and later calculations were held.

In the assessment, besides the CPWD rates and market rates, there was also consideration of probable auction rates, which too were lower than the CPWD rates. Yet, the CPWD rates were kept as the benchmark. Sources in the board, for instance, cited how the market rent rate in Sector 38-west was less than Rs 20,000 a month for a typical booth, while the auction estimate too was only a little higher; but the CPWD assessment rate crossed Rs 40,000 a month. For a shop in Kajheri, market rate assessment was less than Rs 20,000, but the CPWD rate was above Rs 2.5 lakh!

Some bidders that this reporter had met over the past week at the CHB office, on Thursday wondered why the CPWD norm was not disclosed and why it was followed. “We had bid after assessing the market on our own. That’s what the CHB reception staff too had guided us to do, when we had sought to know the starting bid,” said Payal Nagpal, 24, who wanted a booth for a boutique in a southern sector.

CHB chairman Maninder Singh confirmed no individuals had been found eligible as per the CPWD criterion, “but we have got response from four banks and are expecting more offers from such institutions”.

Asked why the CPWD criterion was kept as basis and without informing the prospective bidders, the chairman said, “We have still got offers that would make us around Rs 2 lakh a month in all. We have a better assessment of the market too.”

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