Far from the Crowd
Home buyers are moving towards the fringes to escape the capital’s hubbub
Bound by the Hoogly river on its west, Kolkata has only three directions to expand. “Even the north is crowded, leaving the east, northeast and the south to build,” says Satyen Sanghvi, director of the Merlin group. So, it is in areas south of Garia, Narendrapur, Baruipur and towards the east that affordable housing projects are coming up.
“Most affordable housing projects are being launched in Rajarhat area outside New Town, Madhyamgram, Behala and Barasat,” says Nandu Belani of the Belani group whose Hiland Greens in Maheshtala is seeing much buyer interest. “It has around 3,000 affordable units, each around 700 sq ft. Price will be around Rs 18 lakh. There is a huge demand and over 11,000 applications have been sold for 3,000 flats. Flats will be allotted on a lottery basis,” Belani says.
The growth in these areas has been driven by improved infrastructure and connectivity. “Metro’s extension has increased demand in Behala and the flyover from Jinjira Bazar to Batanagar will halve travel time from Maheshtala to the city,” says Belani. The USP of Rajarhat is its proximity to posh New Town and Salt Lake as well as to the airport and the IT hub. “My husband and I work in Sector V which is far from our parents’ homes in south Kolkata. So we bought a place in Rajarhat,” says software engineer Sreemita Dutta, 34.
Prices in Rajarhat range between Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000 per sq ft. Cheaper projects are coming up in Gopal- pur and Maheshtala, where an apartment goes from Rs 2,200 to Rs 3,000 per sq ft. In Behala, prices vary from Rs 2,400 to Rs 3,600 per sq ft, depending on distance from the upcoming metro. Prices range from Rs 2,600 to Rs 2,900 per sq in Madhyamgram. “Land in these areas is more budgetfriendly, enabling us to offer apartments under Rs 50 lakh,” says Sanjay Jain, MD of Siddha Group, which has built Siddha Town, Siddha Happyville and Xanadu Studios in Rajarhat and Siddha Town in Madhyamgram.
Builders predict the growth in affordable homes will continue as these make sense even from “investment saleability point of view”. “Increasing importance of Kolkata to the eastern and north-eastern parts of the country is reflected in the rising number of home buyers. Growth is enhanced by the trend of people seeking second and third homes. Overall, the signs of growth are encouraging,” says Nakul Himatsingka of Ideal Group.
Niggles in land acquisition and delay in handing over houses may, however, play spoilsport.