Dr. K.T. Jaleel, Hon'ble Minister for Local Self Government,

Shri E. Chandrasekharan, Hon'ble Minister for Revenue,

Mr. Farook Mahmood, Chairman & Managing Director, Silverline Group

Shri Shaju Kumar, Assistant Vice-President, The Times of India,

Mr. Santhosh Chacko Thomas, Senior Manager, The Times of India

Friends in the Media,

Priyappetta Sahodaree Sahodaranmare

Ellaavarkkum Ente Namaskaaram,


It gives me immense pleasure to address you this evening at the Property Icons event where we released the Coffee Table Book entitled Times Property Icons, which documents the vibrant saga of infrastructure development in Kerala. 

At the outset, let me congratulate all the 12 entrepreneurs who figure in this Coffee Table Book and who are being honoured by The Times Group, which is the largest media and entertainment group in the country. A timely recognition coming from a reputed media-house is to be seen as the reflection of the positive opinion of society in general. So, those who are being felicitated today can be proud of being suitably recognized by the people of Kerala.


The Times Groupalso deserves appreciation for having organized this event at a juncture when Kerala has established itself as one of the most preferred destinations for investment in the commercial infrastructure sector in India. The recent developments like the Kochi Metro, the South-East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe   submarine cable venue etc have boosted the image of Kerala as a State that is ready for the future. 

I would also see this as a recognition of the pro-active efforts of the State Government in ensuring special industrial zones, improved connectivity and ease of doing business.  I understand that very recently, the Editor of a leading Malayalam daily also had showered praise on this Government for the proactive steps it has taken to improve infrastructure and to bring sizable investment to the State.

As we all know, the State Government has been actively pursuing all possible measures to make the State a hub of business activity.  Many of the roadblocks that once prevented the smooth operations of business have been cleared.  This government has also made it very clear that any step by anyone to hamper the process of development will not be tolerated.

Such encouragement has certainly helped the infrastructure sector in Kerala to grow with investment from the domestic market instead of depending only on remittances from abroad.  This is also because those in the Real Estate sector have gained the trust of the people through their hard work.  I would see the partners in the industry who constructively utilize the business ecosystem as the State's partners in development. Their   contributions and success deserve to be recognized so as to encourage more people to step forward to become development partners for the State.

I understand that the business community in Kerala is very appreciative of the interest of the Government in fostering business activities.  However, the Government has obligations beyond such measures, as is evident from the ambitious missions it has undertaken in the State.  These obligations can be fulfilled only if the business community also lends support at the right time.

Since the industry partners being honored here are mostly property developers, I would cite the example of the LIFE Mission, which aims to ensure houses for every family in the State. As we all know, shelter is one of the basic needs, a fundamental right in many constitutions and in the International Declaration of Human Rights.  You would be aware that Kerala's LIFE Mission promises not just a roof, but a habitat conducive to human development and dignity.

I feel that it would be wonderful if every successful property developer or at least a group of developers together could contribute to the LIFE Mission by providing some houses for the homeless.  When even college students all over Kerala have managed to contribute dwellings to the homeless, it should be easy for a property developer.  I have been informed that some of you have undertaken such schemes under the corporate social responsibility activities. Someone had mentioned Ashiyana, a scheme for the homeless in Thiruvananthapuram, which could be followed by others in other districts too.

Besides, I have heard that one of the persons bing honoured today has won national award from Gandhi Peace Foundation and another person had received the National Award for Outstanding Contribution to National Development.  Apart from being great achievements, these honours should be an inspiration to contribute something to society.

On the whole, Kerala’s performance in the housing sector has been better than the national average, especially in the percentage of houses with concrete roofs.  While the national average lingers just above 32%, Kerala has managed to keep it around 50%.  When it comes to houses with toilets, we, in Kerala, have scored cent percent, which is much above the national figure.   But, I feel that a push from the property development sector will certainly bring in a qualitative change in our housing sector.  The Property Icons being honoured today could take a lead in this matter.

Quite often we hear complaints from Nature lovers that builders think of development only as a process that replaces tiled roofs with concrete and brick walls with glass.  Property developers should realize that what we need are not concrete jungles but environment-friendly constructions which preserve the character of a land.   The construction sector also has to be more innovative in the use of building materials, in the utilization of space and in ensuring safety in houses as well as large commercial buildings.

There is a saying that To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.  But, in today’s world, with the rising cost of construction and the lack of trained personnel how many happy home owners do we see?  In the case of flats, we find many people fighting legal battles against their builders.  As a person from the Judiciary, I would suggest that every developer should maintain transparency in clauses related to ownership and costs that the occupants will have to incur in future.

  People also have to be informed about the rules and regulations in housing like the Kerala Municipal Building Rules, 1999 for cities and the Kerala Panchayat Building Rules(2011) for rural areas. Often customers are more inclined to violate provisions of Paddy and Wetland Act of 2008which are applicable to building plots converted from paddy fields. Now Government has made certain amendments and the benefits will be known in due course. 

The Coastal Regulation Zone Rulesof 2010 are another area, where many violations are common, but not known to people.  Different zones have different stipulations. For instance, in Zone 1, construction of any kind will not be permitted. In Kerala, the CRZ area is being reduced to 50 meters from high Tide Line on the landward side and this is a No Development Zone.  But, sea facing flats are the ultimate luxury and people are too happy to try a violation, which the builders should never encourage.

Sometimes, legal battles arise in spite of following the rules. I would suggest Dispute Redressal methods like Lok Adalat, Mediation etc., to settle such cases. If our builders   are facing such issues, please use the next Lok Adalat to be held on 14th July in all court centers.

I would suggest that highly circulated mass media like The Times of India should spread awareness about these legal issues through their segments dedicated to property matters.  They could also guide people about the innovative, cost effective and environment friendly trends in construction. In the allotted segment apart from property matters, advertisement etc, readers may be allowed to air their doubts and questions about relevant information regarding real estate matters. Experts in the field are to answer all doubts for the benefit of readers. They can also highlight do’s and do not’s in the properly matters

I once again congratulate all the Property Icons who have been honoured today, and compliment The Times of India for conducting this function in a befitting manner.

Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal


Jai Hind