Far from the Crowd

Home buy­ers are mov­ing to­wards the fringes to es­cape the cap­i­tal’s hub­bub

India Today - - REAL ESTATE SPECIAL - By Malini Ban­er­jee Fol­low the writer on Twit­ter @Start­ing­to­blue

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.

Pho­to­graph by SUBIR HALDER

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