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Home > Business > Special

Booming realty: All roads lead to Navi Mumbai

Anjuli Bhargava in Mumbai | September 01, 2007

If things go as planned, Navi Mumbai will emerge as one of the most accessible areas in the city of Mumbai and prices on its Palm Beach Road will be close to the city's famous Marine Drive some years down the line.

It is on this assumption that several leading Maharashtra politicians have invested large sums of money in buying up Navi Mumbai land, real estate developers have honed in and several enlightened bureaucrats -- both in the state and from outside � have invested in flats of varying sizes depending on their ability to raise funds.

Navi Mumbai was set up in 1971 to decongest Mumbai. City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra  was also set up in the same year to steer the growth and development of Navi Mumbai, a huge experiment in urban planning then. Cidco acquired 344 square km of land (with 14 towns or "nodes") that now comprises Navi Mumbai.

Barring the 22.5-km six-lane trans-harbour bridge that will link south Mumbai to Nava, a dedicated four-lane (12 km) expressway will take passengers to the entrance of the new airport (from Nava to Panvel).

In other words, the journey from south Mumbai (the Oberoi or Taj) to the new airport will take close to 40 minutes, far less than it takes from south Mumbai to Santa Cruz airport.

Two major railway links are planned between the existing Santa Cruz airport and the new Panvel (Navi Mumbai) airport through a metro -- being built by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority -- and a new ring rail network linking Panvel to Vashi.

A hovercraft is also proposed linking Navi Mumbai to south Mumbai near the Taj, which will enable covering the distance in around 45 minutes.

"A similar facility did exist earlier but tickets were priced too high and it was found unviable, especially during the monsoons," a senior Cidco official explained. He said a private operator will now be invited to run this on a build-operate-transfer basis with a revenue-sharing arrangement with Cidco.

Cidco is also planning a new parallel road bridge over the sea to the Chembur-to- Vashi road bridge, which will almost exclusively cater to airport traffic. "If all our plans work out, it will be far easier to reach Panvel airport from south Mumbai than even Santa Cruz," the official added.

Though many of these are in the planning stage, this is precisely what is leading to the huge spurt in land prices in the area. On Palm Beach Road (dubbed the Marine Drive of Navi Mumbai), a premium 2,000 square-foot residential flat now sells for Rs 1 crore and above (Rs 6,000 per square foot).

Less premium flats in the area are selling at Rs 4,000 per square foot. In Panvel town, land prices have trebled within the past year or so since cabinet approval for the airport was announced. Once airport tenders are issued, prices are expected to go through the roof.

Moreover, unlike Delhi and Mumbai airports, where 5 per cent of the airport land has been offered to the private developer for commercial development, at Panvel 12 per cent of the 2,600 acres of the total airport land will be offered to the private developer for commercial exploitation.

"You can imagine the value of this land in due course if prices in the more developed areas of Navi Mumbai are anything to go by," said an aviation ministry official.

That, he feels, is likely to make the battle to grab the new airport at least as intense as the one fought over Delhi and Mumbai airports in January 2006, if not more.

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