Prefabricated housing gains ground in India

Waste generation during the stage of construction is relatively low

By H. P. Ranina/NRI Problems

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Published: Tue 12 Dec 2023, 9:00 AM

Question: I have been in construction business for several years working in the Gulf and prior to that in Malaysia. As I am planning to return to India for good, I want to know whether there is scope for constructing prefabricated residential homes in India for which I have the requisite expertise.

ANSWER: Construction of prefabricated houses is gaining ground in India especially in the field of affordable housing which is a priority sector incentivised by the Government. It is gaining in popularity because the time involved in constructing these houses is half the time which is normally taken for constructing a house on traditional lines. The reason is that prefabricated houses defer from conventional construction techniques because the components are made precisely in a factory with a high degree of accuracy. The factory set up minimises the effects of weather and other onsite elements. Steel and concrete are used for structural parts which can withstand natural disasters. The waste generation during the stage of construction is relatively low because materials are efficiently used depending on the type or style of construction. The cost of construction is also less as a part of the process is undertaken in factories, which reduces the labour cost. The combination of controlled factory conditions, top notch insulation and quality control makes the prefab homes environmentally friendly. Therefore, if you decide to set up this business in India, the prospects are attractive.

Question: Data centres are increasing dramatically in India. This will result in huge energy consumption. Will India be able to cope with higher energy costs?

ANSWER: Traditionally hard disks have been used as a storage device. Though they are cheap, they consume substantial energy and have slower read and write speeds. Fortunately, flash storage solutions are now taking over increasingly and are used in data centres in India and globally. Flash drives are completely digital, consume far less power and have a faster speed. Currently, flash storage costs are 20 cents per gigabyte but this cost is likely to come down to 5 cents per gigabyte in the near future. Flash storage is based on technology called NAND Flash Memory which consists of memory cells that store data as electrical charges. The need for computing power is going up rapidly for most organizations in India with 5G and edge computing taking off. Flash storage has become ubiquitous in consumer electronics and enterprise environments on account of its decreasing cost. The increasing use of artificial intelligence has resulted in cost challenges for organizations. In a cost conscious country like India, flash storage solutions will reduce energy costs for data centres by almost 80 per cent to 90 per cent. Moreover, green data centres will now become a reality and help in curtailing the carbon footprint in India.

H. P. Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.
H. P. Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.

Question: I have filed an income-tax return in July this year for the financial year which ended on 31st March 2023. This return was not verified. In view of this fact, do I have to file a revised return after its verification? I am also informed that an updated return can be filed.

ANSWER: As far as the first issue of an unverified return is concerned, the tax department has announced a scheme called ‘Discard Return’. This permits an individual to discard a return which was earlier filed without verification and delete the same from the records of the income-tax department. Thereafter, a fresh income-tax return which is duly verified can be submitted online on the portal of the income-tax department. As a result, no revised return needs to be filed as the earlier unverified return stands deleted. On the second issue of filing an updated return, section 139(8-A) of the Income-tax Act permits any person to furnish an updated return of his income whether or not he has earlier furnished a return. The time limit for doing so is 24 months from the end of the relevant assessment year. To illustrate, for the assessment year 2023-24 relevant to the income earned during the financial year ended on March 31, 2023, the updated return can be submitted on or before March 31, 2026, provided proof of payment of the full amount of tax is attached to the updated return.

H.P. Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.

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