Harjith Babbar, MD & CEO, Rivali Park, CCI Projects, comes across as a passionate man who is ready to learn at any age. In an informal chat with Sapna Srivastava, he briefs upon his experience as a developer, the Rivali Park project and the real-estate scenario at large.
Since 1957, Cable Corporation of India (CCI) has been the leading manufacturer of power and control cables. In 1999, the company ventured into the real estate sector through its associate company, CCI Projects Private Limited (CCP) headed by Harjith Babbar. Its first project spread over 22 acres of land at Borivali East in Mumbai is called Rivali Park. “The land owned by Hiten Khatau, Chairman and Managing Director of CCI since 1970, earlier had a factory which was moved to Nasik as Mumbai was no longer conducive for industries. I was running my own steel and textile business at that time and due to my long association with Khatau, when he asked me to join his real estate project, I took it up, as a new venture and entered the real estate business,” said Babbar, recalling the start of his realty career.
Located right on the western express highway, the land was initially planned to be developed as a Mall but later, the company considered a residential project to be more feasible. Babbar explained, “The development rights of land surrounding the current land parcel had been sold to Kanakia developers. In 2006, on the central available land. we planned on constructing a Mall but realizing that such a development would require a huge investment, it was decided to build a mixed use residential complex. Finally, the master plan was prepared in 2009 and the project was launched in 2010. Designed as a holistic township development, it proposes to provide commercial, retail and hospitality among other amenities. The project will continue to evolve as it goes along and will be developed in phases.”
Going Green or Green Washing
Talking about developers growing inclination towards green ratings for the projects, Babbar feels the eco-friendly practice is the need of the hour. “Green certification is a marketing tool for sure but can’t be termed as a gimmick. The developers are including eco-friendly features as the rules and regulations now require these. Therefore, going a step further developers are opting for green certifications for their projects. For instance, Rivali Park is a LEED registered and IGBC Gold pre-certified project and our target is to obtain a Platinum rating. This means that the project would have to include rain water harvesting, STP plant, solar power and other green features. As a developer, we provide a building envelope while the fit-outs are done by individual owners. So, on our part we are taking measures such as dust prevention, judicious use and discharge of groundwater and recycling of building materials like waste concrete to make paver blocks in-situ during construction. The building envelope uses flyash bricks and concrete and drip irrigation for landscaping. To the buyers, we advise and suggest to use energy efficient and water saving fittings & fixtures. In fact, the end users are themselves now aware of benefits of green measures for healthy living & cost saving.”
Elaborating on the ethos of the company, Babbar said that CCI Projects tagline of ‘Building Responsibly’ has been put into practice by not just stopping at the green initiatives but also actively engaging with the local community. “In coming years I personally want to focus more on social work. I also believe that as a developer it is not just an aesthetically pleasing & sustainable building that we should leave behind but should be able to contribute to the social fabric of the place. Right now, the company is working with an NGO to support 180 under-privileged kids in their studies so that they do not drop out from their schools. The buyers are also encouraged to be part of the initiative. The idea is that once the project is complete, the residents will be able to take this community work forward.”