Oil, the single biggest factor that helped the government manage the fiscal deficit, has climbed from its advantageous position to well over $75. Even as GST is gaining stability, the E-way bill has caused feathers to be ruffled again. Not only are small companies having to contend with compliance changes a bit too often, there are certain anomalies that require clarification. GST for government contracts has been brought to 12 per cent while GST on private contracts is at 18 per cent. The only good news on the macro front is that a normal monsoon is expected.
However, the outlook is positive for 2018-19. Roads and highways are gathering pace with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari laying the construction target for 2018-19 at 45 km per day. He has also raised the award target to 20,000 km for the current fiscal, up 25 per cent over the previous year.
Year Roads awarded (km) Roads constructed (km)
2017-18 17,055 9,829
2018-19 20,000 16,420
Mumbai's Development Plan (MDP) 2034 has been released after revisions and has hiked the FSI in the island city to 3 from 1.33 for residential, and 5 for commercial.
In the suburbs, FSI has been raised from 2 to 2.5 for residential and from 2.5 to 5 for commercial. MDP 2034 proposes to unlock 3,700 hectare of public and private land currently tagged as a no-development zone (NDZ) for the construction of 10 lakh affordable homes.
While the unlocking of the land will be from no-development zones, FSI has been enhanced in the island city, which is landlocked. This is likely to put severe pressure on the current infrastructure. While the metro-rail should ease traffic congestion bringing enhanced capacity to public transport, the lack of any build-up in capacity in water, sanitation and waste management will throw the city into an accelerated pace of decay.
The ban on the construction of new buildings, too, was recently lifted by the Supreme Court for six months, with conditions. The ban, which held up construction projects worth Rs 20 billion, had been granted as landfill sites were saturated and developers and contractors were dumping debris all over the city.
The above impetus for construction can help the industry exponentially, provided it also enables its key actors: The workers. With only 4 per cent of the current 32 million construction workers skilled, obtaining high productivity through mechanisation and use of advanced tools remains a pipe dream. An unskilled force will set us to lose qualitative aspects in the quest to chase quantitative targets. Our cover story unravels the pitfalls ailing the industry and what it needs to do to muscle up!