NRIs demand money back as fate of 33-floor tower in Amaravati hangs in balance
Several Telugu NRIs, who invested money in the Rs 500 crore NRT Icon project, have expressed concern over its fate after the new government led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy pushed the development of Amaravati to the back-burner.Updated: Sep 28, 2019, 14:08 IST
The uncertainty over Andhra Pradesh’s capital city at Amaravati has cast its shadow on the construction of the 33-floor iconic tower proposed to be funded by more than 100 non-resident Indians from the state.
Several Telugu NRIs, who invested money in the Rs 500 crore NRT Icon project, have expressed concern over its fate after the new government led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy pushed the development of Amaravati to the back-burner.
His cabinet colleagues also have given clear indications that even if Amaravati will continue as the capital city, it is not going to be of the same magnitude and grandeur as projected by the previous Naidu government.
“Some of them wondered whether the iconic tower can ever be constructed and even if it is done, whether there would be any demand for the same, as Amaravati itself is in limbo,” Sagar Doddapaneni, whose friends have invested in NRT Icon, said.
“What is the point in constructing a huge tower amidst barren lands, where there is no activity?” Doddapaneni asked.
The foundation for NRT Icon was laid by former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu at Rayapudi close to the Krishna river in June 2018 and it was the first of its kind mega-project proposed in Amaravati. It was expected to house several multinational companies, mostly software firms, and could provide jobs to over 5,000 people.
NRT Icon was proposed to be developed by AP Non-Resident Telugus (APNRT) Society, a state government-supported organisation.
APNRT Society’s president Venkat S Medapati and officials, who held a teleconference with several NRIs from across the world on Thursday, tried to convince them that the project was not shelved.
Medapati told them that it would have to wait for further steps to be taken by the government on Amaravati.
“We told them that the state government has given its consent to go ahead with the project, but many of them expressed their own apprehension,” Medapati said while speaking to HT.
“Some of them want to wait for some more time, while others want to cancel their bookings and their money to be reimbursed,” he said.
The 158-metre high iconic tower coming up in 5.4 acres, was designed with a shape “A” representing Amaravati. It was to have total space of nine lakh square feet and every floor was planned to have an office space of 20,000 sq feet.
A mega convention centre to accommodate 5,000 people and a revolving restaurant at the top from where visitors could view the entire Amaravati city were also conceived.
Other facilities including an international standard shopping complex and other commercial activities, besides world-class auditorium, high-end classrooms with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, sustainability features with water and energy conservation etc were also planned.
“As many as 110 units, each comprising around 5,000 square feet, were offered for sale in the NRT Icon, of which 102 were booked,” Medapati said.
“The NRIs paid booking amounts ranging from Rs 10 lakh up to Rs 2 crore. The APNRT raised Rs 34 crore from the NRIs, mostly from the US, through these bookings,” he said.
APNRT Society’s chief executive officer K Bhavani Shankar said while concerns of the investors were genuine, one could only hope that the project would materialise.
“We are confident Amaravati will develop over a period of time and so, there will be demand for the iconic tower,” Shankar said.
The AP Capital Region Development Authority, which gave the approval for the project, has set 2021 as the deadline for the tower’s completion.
“We have got all the clearances including that of Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), environmental clearance, design approval etc. The building is ready for take-off,” Shankar said.
Officials have said unless NRIs start investing money on the project, the construction cannot commence. Instead, many of them are asking APNRT to return their money.
“Out of Rs 34 crore, we have already spent more than Rs 21 crore on purchase of land, securing various approvals, processing fees, payments made to consultants like KPMG and architects and advance payment to world-class builders,” Medapati said.
“We are left with just Rs 13 crore. How can we return the money to the investors?” he asked
He said it would send wrong signals to other investors even if some people withdraw.
“Unless 75% of the investors come forward to fund the project, we cannot move further,” he said.
The APNRT authorities are planning to have another round of talks with the investors shortly and are hopeful of a positive outcome.