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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Thirty years on, downtown Mohali still a pipe dream

Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times  Sas Nagar, July 28, 2014
First Published: 11:15 IST(28/7/2014) | Last Updated: 11:20 IST(28/7/2014)

Well over three decades after the state government decided to develop a central business district in the city’s heart, and despite hiring several top-notch consultancy firms in quick succession, the project is nowhere nearer to taking off than when it was first conceived.

Though Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal laid the foundation stone of the ambitious venture in Sector 62 five years ago, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has now decided not to auction any major commercial site there in the near future citing the real estate market “meltdown”.

In late 1980s, the work on planning the project was initiated by the state housing & urban development department and was later entrusted to an Ahmedabad architect, BV Joshi, in 2004-05. However, with the change in government in 2007, the job was assigned to Singapore-based infrastructure consultancy major, Jurong International, which was tasked with designing the downtown centre on the pattern of that in Singapore.

 Though the firm submitted a report in 2008, the project remained stalled even after other consultancy groups were paid crores of rupees in taxpayers’ money by the government to get it off the ground.

“The slowdown in the real estate market hasn’t eased yet and we’re not planning to auction commercial sites in Sector62 in the near future. It’s better to wait for a while than to take risks at this stage. We recently put shop booths and shop-cum -offices in other sectors of the city under the hammer but didn’t get a good response,” said GMADA district town planner Pankaj Bawa.

“If this hub is developed, it’ll give a fillip to the state’s beleaguered economy by not only garnering crores of rupees worth of investments but also as a source of revenue for the government,” said Shalinder Anand, chairman of the Mohali Property Consultants Association.

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