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Real estate prices soar before planes

Last updated on: December 17, 2010 17:00 IST

Real estate prices soar before planes

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P B Jayakumar in Mumbai

With the environment ministry nod to Navi Mumbai airport, money is flying into projects in its precincts.

Youngsters zoom past auto rickshaws in expensive bikes at Khanda Colony near New Panvel. That's not the only sign of newfound prosperity - two bars have come up, along with a multiplex called Apna Cinema that opened three months ago.

Money has been flowing in fast and furiously over the past few years, ever since talks on a new airport at Navi Mumbai started.

But it has become an avalanche after the environment ministry's green signal to the airport site, which is just 5 km from Panvel.

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"More than 125 new vehicles, including some 25 cars and 25 transportation vehicles, come for registration every day," says the regional transport officer at Karnala Sports Academy in Panvel.

The office started a month ago and caters to Panvel, Uran, Khalapur and Karjat talukas. Earlier, people had to travel 35 km to the Pen RTO office for registration.

Bungalows owned by erstwhile farmers have become a common sight. One such bungalow has a Toyota Innova, a Mahindra Renault Logan, a Maruti Swift DZire and Alto parked in its courtyard.

The farmer sold a plot and is in the closing stages of selling three more.

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Now, a gunta (1,089 sq ft) of land goes for about Rs 12 lakh, compared with Rs 2 lakh two years ago.

If villages in the area are reaping the harvest of this money - with farmers selling land and turning real estate agents or suppliers of building materials - the small port town of Uran, 23 km from Panvel, can't seem to figure out what to do with this money.

Villagers are buying flats in the ubiquitous towers at Navghar, a brand new township.

The current market rate is close to Rs 3,000 a sq ft - more than double what it was just a few months ago, fuelled by hopes that the long-pending 22-km Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link bridge may take off, finally.

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Once this and the dedicated four-lane, 12-km Sion-Panvel expressway are successfully completed - these projects were so far mired in red tape mainly due to the tug of war over the airport project - it will take only 40 minutes to reach the new airport from the Taj or Trident, far less than what it takes from south Mumbai to the existing airport at Santa Cruz.

This is because the bridge will be extended to Khopoli on the Mumbai-Goa National Highway as well as the Mumbai-Pune expressway.

The Trans Harbour Link will also substantially reduce travel time to Pune, Goa, Chennai and Kochi.

Metro and monorail projects worth Rs 3,000 crore to connect Navi Mumbai to some of the suburbs in Mumbai will bring the two cities much closer.

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If these were not enough, local officials are also working on a blueprint to start a hovercraft service that will cover the distance between Navi Mumbai and south Mumbai in around 45 minutes.

Panvel, of course, is the centre of all attraction and real estate prices here have reached stratospheric levels.

Consider this: Just a few kms away near Rasayani, Indiabulls Green is building 29,000 flats over 80 acres. When the project was announced a year ago, the rate was Rs 2,200 a sq ft; it has now touched Rs 4,000.

A four-bedroom flat will cost Rs 1 crore and Indiabulls plans to sell about 65 such units.

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A marketing executive at the project site says 1,300 flats have been sold, mostly one BHKs (Rs 34 lakh) and two BHKs (Rs 48-54 lakh).

Competition is starting to heat up with an increasing number of residential projects like Swapna Nagari and Mahalaxmi in Nere village.

About 12 km away near Patalaganga, Hiranandani Palace Garden is coming up as an integrated township with residences over 280 acres and commercial real estate over 18 million sq ft.

Farmhouses with swimming pools and dance floors are sprouting everywhere.

So, it's natural that real estate agent Kulwade, who has a swanky office at New Panvel, has a queue outside his office through the day.

Kulwade, who ran his agency solo from a small rented space, now has five assistants attending customers like Laxmi Iyer, a resident of Sydney, and her brother, a doctor working in London.

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"How much will the appreciation be after five years if I invest in a two-bedroom flat here?" Iyer asks.

That is a common question Kulwade never tires of answering. Kulwade knows he has to be one up on his competitors (Panvel alone has over 1000 real estate agents).

So, apart from the Navi Mumbai airport and the Sewri bridge projects, his market promotion includes a farmhouse owned by actor Salman Khan, just after the Gadeshwar river.

The real estate boom is more or less same in other Panvel suburbs like Vichumbe, Ulve and in the entire Pen-Kopra belt, where the proposed airport is coming up.

Many have become innovative so that the prosperity lasts.

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For example, the roads are narrow, so a lot of these bungalow owners are constructing temples at the entrance so that the authorities find it difficult to widen the roads.

New emerging nodes like Kamote-Khandeswar-Mansarovar and the already developed Kharghar are also witnessing numerous deals.

In addition to the hype over the airport, proposed projects like a golf course, amusement park, nature park, Central Park (Phase-I already completed) and metro rail are driving sales at Kharghar, where even two BHK flats at prime locations cost close to Rs 1 crore. Khargar is also known as a hub for education.

At Seawoods and Nerul, the proposed integrated commercial complex at Seawoods railway station is driving up sales of apartments.

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The presence of Mukesh Ambani's corporate office at Ghansoli and Anil Ambani's Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City at Kopper Khairne are pivotal to the development work.

On the old Mumbai-Pune Highway, Kalpatharu arm JMC Projects is constructing a huge flyover in front of the Panvel bus station to decongest traffic.

So far, the newfound prosperity has not increased the crime rate in the area. "Disputes between family members on land deals are common and civil cases do happen. But, the riches from real estate is not reflected in the crime rates," says PS Sandanasiv, deputy police commissioner, Navi Mumbai.

Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that the skyrocketing real estate prices don't impact that.

 



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