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REDEFINING AFFORDABLE HOUSING

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REDEFINING AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Driven by a desire to build world-class homes at affordable prices, the Siddha Group’s focus on creating demand through integration of high-end design, construction excellence and timely delivery has helped it reap rich returns. Managing Director, Sanjay Jain takes MARWAR through the group’s three-decade journey to name, fame and prosperity.

Text: Joseph Rozario

IN WHAT BEGAN WITH A SINGLE HOUSING project, the Siddha Group has traversed a long way to establish itself as a leading player in the real estate sector. At the helm of affairs is chairman Chandra Prakash Jain, the man who started it all for the Siddha Group, and his brother, Sanjay Jain, who has been a key force behind its immense growth as its managing director.

Though first-generation realtors, the duo has much to show by way of achievement. The Siddha Group has a presence in Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bengaluru today and has posted a whopping `600 crore turnover in 2017—a far cry from the humbler days of their forbears who had migrated from Banura in the Sikar district of Rajasthan to a village called Palashbari near Guwahati in Assam two generations ago. Chandra Prakash and Sanjay Jain’s father, late Amarchand Jain, in fact was born there. After coming of age, he tried his hand at several small scale businesses before venturing into the jute business, which brought him to Kolkata in the 1950s. From trading in jute he went on to own jute mills, and thus jute became the Jains family business.

Foray into real estate
Despite the jute business going strong, brothers Chandra Prakash and Sanjay, however, had to look for other avenues for growth. This was because they had two other brothers, and at one point when all four of them joined the family jute business, it resulted in the business having more hands to run it than required. With that Chandra Prakash Jain’s foray into the real estate sector began, and Sanjay Jain soon followed suit. “My brother, Chandra Prakash Jain, who had completed his graduation in Kolkata, shifted from Kolkata to Jaipur in early 1986. In 1987, he built the Siddha House in Jaipur. The successful construction of this building motivated us to get into the real estate business. I joined the business much later, in 1992,” says Sanjay Jain.

Growth years
Several successful projects later, in 2003, the duo started concentrating fully on real estate which became their core business. Today, with no less than 34 completed projects to their credit, Sanjay Jain has come a long way from his earliest days in business as a 12-year old, when he used to accompany his father to office to help him in his accounting work, which then was done manually. After his graduation, influenced by his brother Chandra Prakash’s success, he joined hands with him. “We acquired our first project in Kolkata in 1990, which was completed in 1992,” says Sanjay Jain. “Christened Aashray, this was the first duplex apartment building at that point in Kolkata and was a phenomenal success. It was a major learning process for me. It bolstered my confidence and from then on my main focus became the real estate business. I also learnt a lot from my brother. We did several successful projects in Jaipur and Kolkata after that, such as Siddha Point, Siddha Park and Rajkamal.”

The next major success for the brothers was Siddha Pines at Rajarhat, Kolkata which was launched with much fanfare. Buoyed by its success, they then launched Xanadu in 2008, also in Kolkata, which was the first studio apartment project of its kind.

A blessing in disguise
The financial crisis of 2008 then hit the world like a bolt from the blue and the economic downturn that followed impacted the real estate sector too. The Jains were in the midst of a large project in Rajarhat, Kolkata called Siddha Town at the time, which was intended for the high income segment. With the recession playing spoilsport, the Jains had to change direction and remodel the project to a low-cost 1300 apartment block for middle income groups. The project, however, turned out to be a super hit—thanks to the Jains’ decision to offer the best of amenities and quality products even within low budgets—so much so that it had them switch to the affordable housing segment instead. Today, most of their projects, barring a few, are affordable housing projects, and the Siddha Group has become synonymous with providing quality projects at affordable prices. A project similar to Siddha Town Rajarhat called Siddha Town Madhyamgram has also come up since.

Emboldened by the Kolkata success, the Jains next ventured into Bengaluru in 2014, and, as of 2017, they have entered the Mumbai market as well. Their first project in Mumbai, Siddha Seabrook, at Kandivali West, was launched on Gudi Padwa this year with 70 apartments getting sold on the very day. As of now, they have a second upcoming project at Wadala. “We have bigger plans for this city!” says an optimistic Sanjay Jain, talking about the group’s future plans for Mumbai.

Breaking new grounds
Siddha Seabrook, a G+54 storey project, incidentally comes with a host of thoughtfully conceived amenities, including an exclusive residents’ clubhouse, sea-facing apartments and, interestingly, ‘Sky Gardens’, which allow one to live amidst greenery and enjoy the magnificent view of the Mumbai skyline. The ‘Sky Garden’ concept actually takes on after ‘Rooftop Skywalks’ that the Siddha Group has pioneered in several upcoming affordable housing projects in Kolkata (such as Siddha Galaxia, at Rajarhat; Siddha Sky, at Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, etc). The “deluxe” feature is aimed at improving the quality of life with a host of amenities such as landscaped greens, sitting areas, decks for telescopes, clubs, cafes, auditoriums, water bodies with fountains, etc. Siddha Eden LakeVille, for example, will feature a cricket pitch, a badminton court, a half basketball court and other sporting and recreational facilities, in addition to other features. “The skywalks concept has caught the imaginations of both the middle-income and high-income home owners’ groups and the response till now has been outstanding,” says Sanjay Jain.

Of late, spurred on by overwhelming response, the group has turned its attention to housing for economically weaker sections as well. The Siddha Group, in fact has already delivered two projects for low-income groups, namely, Siddha Ashray, in Jaipur, in 2013, an EWS project under the aegis of the Rajasthan Government; and Bonorini, in West Bengal, in 2016, an initiative inspired by Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, in association with the Refugee Relief & Rehabilitation Department, Government of West Bengal. Similar projects are now on the anvil such as Siddha Magnum, a 6500-apartment project in North Kolkata and Slum Rehabilitation & Residential Projects in Mumbai (within the guidelines of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, Government of Maharashtra).

Awards and felicitations
In its sustained effort to provide quality to homebuyers, the Siddha Group has carved a unique identity for itself. “We aim to help fill a fundamental void in the society by providing affordable homes to the people without compromising on world-class comfort and quality, but within the committed timeframes,” says Sanjay Jain. “Also, our endeavour always has been to bring innovations at convenient price points, and we have been consistently doing that since 1990.” This customer-oriented approach has helped the group earn several prestigious awards, among which are the CNBC AWAAZ Real Estate Award 2013, CNBC Real Estate Award for the years 2015 and 2016, the 9th Annual Real Estate Awards 2016, Realty Plus Conclave and Awards 2017, and others.

The spirit of giving
In this journey to name, fame and prosperity, the Siddha Group has also remained committed to philanthropy through several humanitarian and social welfare initiatives. These include providing academic support to about 700 first generation learners, scholarships for secondary education to adolescent girls and academically supporting children addicted to drugs through various institutions; extending free ophthalmic services to nearly 3000 economically underprivileged persons, in collaboration with Sankara Nethralaya and Mission for Vision in West Bengal; organising skill-enhancement training programmes for construction site labourers and helping project site labourers maintain personal health and hygiene, etc. That apart, the Sidddha Group is also involved in afforestation drives and works hand in hand with the Kolkata Police to fight against drugs. Further, Chandra Prakash Jain is involved in charitable works and social programmes for the Jain community.

The road to the future
So much for the present generation. But what about the next? “It gives me great pleasure to see that now both my nephews and my son have also got themselves fully involved in the business and are bringing in new ideas and innovations. I am positive, as young and energetic leaders, their contribution to the business will take the group to newer heights.”
Sanjay Jain is talking about his elder son Aayushman (he has a younger son, Aadish, who is still studying), who has joined the business in Kolkata as Director — Operations and nephews Samyak and Sanyam (sons of his brother Chandra Prakash) who have joined in similar capacities in Mumbai and Jaipur respectively.

As of now, the Siddha Group has its hands on 12 ongoing projects and 7 upcoming projects which are expected to deliver in excess of 10,000 and 18,000 units respectively. With these and the fresh impetus and newer perspectives of gen next, Sanjay Jain’s optimism to achieve still greater heights for the Siddha Group seems well-founded.

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