Housing Ministry to resume stalled Tata housing project

The government expects to sign a revised agreement with Tata Housing Developing Corporation next week to resume stalled housing projects in the capital Malé, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz revealed at a press conference yesterday.

The terms of the agreement were revised on the advice of the cabinet’s economic council after agreeing to some of Tata’s conditions, Muiz explained, and have now been forwarded to the Indian real estate developer for final approval.

“We have agreed that work must begin in two sites in Malé within 45 days of signing the amendments [to the contract],” Muiz said, referring to the Gaakoshi plot and former Arabiyya School premises.

Muiz further revealed that the government has also agreed to give back the vacant ‘Naadhee’ plot in Malé and approve construction on the site.

The site was taken over by the administration of former President Dr Mohamed Waheed with the intention of building a new Supreme Court complex on the premises.

While the previous administration had offered a plot in Hulhumale’ as an alternative, the developers felt the change would affect financing of the project.

The multi-million dollar housing project – a combination of commercial and social housing through a Public-Private Partnership model – was signed in May 2010 by the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed with Apex Realty Pvt Ltd, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) or joint venture formed between Tata (65 percent) and SG18 Developers (35 percent).

Providing affordable housing to resolve the acute housing shortage in the capital was a core pledge of the Nasheed administration as well as the current Progressive Party of Maldives-led (PPM) government.

Contractual dispute

Housing Minister Dr Mohamed MuizThe Naadhee plot on Sosun Magu was among four plots of land in the capital awarded to the Tata subsidiary for construction of flats.

The Waheed administration’s decision to take over the plot was the source of the dispute with Tata, Muiz conceded yesterday, which has now been resolved after the economic council decided to give back the plot in accordance with the terms of the original agreement.

The government has agreed to purchase 20 percent of the flats constructed on the plot, he noted.

Discussions were meanwhile ongoing between the Supreme Court and the President’s Office on a new site for the apex court’s building, he said.

The flats in Gaakoshi and the old Arabiyya School site would have to be completed in 10 months and a year respectively, Muiz continued, while Tata has also agreed to construct 150 flats in Hulhumale’.

In May, Apex Realty announced that the company was prepared to resume work on the project as soon as the agreed upon amendments were incorporated into the contract.

“Apex Realty officials have undertaken multiple rounds of meetings with the economic council of the cabinet and the Ministry of Housing to find a mutually acceptable solution to contractual issues,” the company said in a press release.

“We are committed to the Maldives project and can start the project within 45 days after the final nod is received from the Housing Ministry and contract amendment is signed,” said Mr Sandeep Ahuja, Director at Apex.