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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Providing you with a classy makaan

Want a swanky home with a swimming pool on the roof and in a area like western Bandra, then you should book a flat at the upcoming Buena Vista. The going rate there is Rs 20,000 per square foot. And you thought good things came only to the deserving. In reality, it comes to the people who can afford it - good or bad.

The man who is selling such expensive real estate is Boman Irani, the 37 year old Chairman and Managing Director of Keystone Group. He has a Mechanical Engineering degree from the Mumbai University. He came into contact with real estate developers at the young age of 19, when he was trying to sell a family property. Though far from being organised, this industry lured him in.

He told CNBC-TV18, "I got into this industry because I realised the scope this industry had. Roti, kapda, makaan are the basic needs of any human being and the makaan had a long way to go in this city. This is what I set out to do and this is what our future goals will be."

Despite no degree, pertaining to putting up buildings he still wanted to be here. He recalls, "When I put up a building in Dahisar, I found out that the rooms we were making were too small and I asked my architect if we could make them a little bigger. He told me about what the city is like, what the area is like, what the people are like and where exactly I should go and get my grounding from. Basically just being interested teaches you a lot."

He does admit that there is a lot more that needs to be done in Mumbai and he feels it is happening - slowly but steadily. But he says that it takes a slap in the face for the sharpest reations to occur - like for instance the July 26 floods finally made the Mumbai authorities wake up.

But of his company's residential properties, he says, "We've decided to concentrate on locations and build only in places which will be considered great places to live in." So he settles on locations, he would be comfortable and want to live in himself. His company has been making apartments, keeping in mind what people want and if they are getting environmentally conscious now, his firm has been using sewage treatment and rainwater harvesting techniques for 6-7 years.

He feels people should be educated about the fact that to live in such environment-friendly homes has a cost attached to it. He says because people don't understand the sewage treatment technology, he's had people complain about treated water being used to water the gardens, just because their children play in the garden! He says that people should undertand the technology and ofcourse, make sure their children don't drink that water!

A Rustomjee home will be an efficiently functioning property, or so claims Irani. With the garbage disposal, sewage treatment, swimming pool all working and being maintained in perfect order. He promises that his firm builds quality into design and keeps people's needs foremost in mind.

Today, Keystone Group has a turnover of Rs 150 crore and employs over 200 people. So with his company doing well, he has set up the Rustomjee International School in Borivili (W), which gives good quality English education to children, who normally wouldn't be able to afford it. He says, "I told the teachers at this school, that it won't give me any shame if no engineers, doctors, scientists or artists come out of this school, but it would hurt me immensely, if I found out that one of them turned out to be a thug, rogue, cheat or a killer."

He has started a programme called 'Shiksha', where child labourers are taken to school between 1.00-3.00 pm and 5.00-7.00 pm and taught. There the child is taught basic reading and writing, about hygiene and moral values and basic things they need to know about this city.

With work and philanthrophy taking so much of time, how does he relax? This multifaceted man unwinds by reading, listening to music, riding his bike, going for long drives. Just to give himself that extra edge, he's also learning karate.

For more information on Keystone projects:
Call: +91·22·56766888
or e-mail : info@rustomjee.com
Website: http://www.rustomjee.com/index.asp

Written for www.moneycontrol.com

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