City Buzz: UP’s ‘Financial cities’ plan | Increasing ghost shopping malls… and more

In other news from cities: Delhi's draft decongestion policy; white paper on women entrepreneurs; rise in rentals across cities.

Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Noida to be ‘financial’ cities

The Uttar Pradesh government aims to partner with the private sector to project Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Noida as ‘financial cities’ and make the state a preferred investment destination in South Asia. The investment potential in the UP real estate and housing sector has been pegged at $25-$30 billion.

A concept paper by the Yogi Adityanath government explains further that medi-cities have also been planned in Gorakhpur, Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bareilly and Chitrakoot districts and film cities are visualised in Gorakhpur, Ghaziabad and Lucknow.

The key enablers of these targets are the new township policy, integrated township policy and affordable housing policy. The aim is to develop more than 100 townships in the next five years to decongest big cities, curb migration and facilitate planned urbanisation.

UP has drawn out the blueprint of a State Capital Region (SCR) on 28,000 square kilometres, on the lines of Delhi-NCR. The SCR will include eight districts – Lucknow, Kanpur, Kanpur Dehat, Unnao, Sitapur, Rae Bareli, and Barabanki.

Source: Business Standard

Only 3% business women in mid-tier cities get funding

Just 3% of women entrepreneurs in Tier 2 and 3 cities can start or expand their business with external funding, including bank loans or equity investments. This was revealed by a white paper from the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH), in collaboration with SALT-mysaltapp, titled ‘At the Helm: Women Entrepreneurs Transforming Middle India’.

Women entrepreneurs
White paper on women entrepreneurs. Pic: X/ReserveBankInnovationHub

The paper outlined the challenges and socio-economic dynamics women entrepreneurs face in Middle India, or Tier 2 and 3 cities. It examined 300 women entrepreneurs across 30 cities, who had a track record of at least three years and employed more than 10 people. The women were either founders or decision-makers.

The paper had an information gap due to the lack of gender-disaggregated data, which was important to counter stereotypes, create interest and make effective policy interventions based on data. The solutions were to create gender-responsive policies for Tier-2 and 3 cities, including education, capital, skill development and strong community networks. Enhancing women’s safety too can foster a vibrant, entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Chief Executive Officer of the RBIH said that they are pushing financial institutions to think about lending mainly to gender intentional projects. While women might have different financial goals compared to men, hardly any financial institution looks at gender intentionality, he said.

Source: The New Indian Express, Business Standard

Read more: Locked down, but not out: Women entrepreneurs in Ahmedabad

Rental surge in 13 Indian cities in Q1 of 2024

Greater Noida, Gurugram and Bengaluru are the three cities which have seen the highest increase in rentals — 32.1%, 24.5%, and 23.7% respectively, year on year — in the rental update for January to March 2024, released by property portal Magicbricks. These are among the 13 major cities that have seen a rental surge over the period according to the report, with the overall year on year growth in rents being 16%. The head of research at Magicbricks anticipates this upward trend in rents to persist over the next few months.

The report also notes a rise in demand (16%) for rental housing from the last quarter (October to December 2023), with Chennai, Navi Mumbai and Noida recording the highest increases in demand. The rise in demand was steepest for rental accommodation in the range of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month. Supply however increased only marginally (1.8%) quarter-on-quarter.

The report was based on the preferences of over two crore customers.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, The Economic Times

Read more: Why citizen groups want more time to respond on the draft Delhi Master Plan 2041

Number of ghost shopping malls on the rise

There has been a rise in ghost shopping malls from 57 in 2022 to 64 in 2023 in eight major cities, according to Knight Frank India’s report, ‘Think India Think Retail 2024’. Such malls, whose vacancy rate is more than 40%, is due to consumers choosing online shopping and larger centres for a better shopping experience.

The report explains that 2023 saw a 238% year-on-year increase in the Gross Leasable Area (GLA) of all shopping centres in prime Indian markets , as well as an increase in ghost malls. The National Capital Region (NCR) had the highest stock of ghost shopping centers, followed by Mumbai and Bengaluru. Only Hyderabad saw a decline of 19% in the ghost shopping centre stock.

A shopping mall
Representative image. Mall at Vijayawada. Pic: Wikipedia/AnandPVP

There has been a 59% increase in low-performing retail assets with 13.3 million square feet of shopping space remaining vacant. It has led to a loss of Rs. 6,700 crore of revenue. However, in bigger malls with an average leasing area of 500,000 square feet, the vacancy rate remained at 5%, while it was 15.5% among middle-level shopping malls.

Source: The Economic Times, Financial Express

Default limit for pesticides in spices raised

The default limit for pesticide residues in spices (not for other food products) was raised to 0.1 mg/kg in April by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), India’s highest food safety regulator, in a ten-fold rise over the earlier 0.01 mg/kg. However, the limit would apply only when the maximum residue limits (MRL) for a pesticide is mentioned.

The regulation was arrived at after Indian spice mixes were banned in Singapore and Hong Kong due to detection of above permissible limits for a pesticide called ethylene oxide.

It is important to ramp up testing of food products and evaluate their quality, said the Delhi High Court. The food cycle is “corrupted” and every food product has so much pesticide. However, the FSSAI counsel said that the food testing is done by the state food safety commissioners.

While 25 samples per food safety officer (FSO) per month is the regulated norm for testing, it is also important to conduct appropriate random testing, as the city’s population is huge. The cost of testing a food product, should be borne by the state, not individuals, said the court.

The commissioner of food supplies has been told to file a personal affidavit that indicates the level of testing, number of food inspecting teams and the budget of the department.

Source: The New Indian Express,

Delhi’s proposed decongestion policy

A ‘City Logistics Policy’ draft to decongest Delhi, including a network of freight villages, micro-delivery hubs and shift of logistics infrastructure to peripheries, was framed by the state government, according to sources.

The draft was released to the public for feedback from stakeholders, such as transporters, logistics agencies, traders and industry, before finalisation. It suggests setting up three urban consolidation and logistics distribution centres (UCLDCs) or freight villages, in the Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Faridabad highways and Delhi-Meerut expressway. The freight villages are expected to develop modern facilities for handling, storage, sorting, consolidation and distribution of goods.

Source: The Economic Times

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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