Ask anyone about the most-preferred residential location of Bhopal today and the obvious reply would be colonies adjacent to the airport road. This belt, which starts from Lalghati square and runs towards the airport, cov- ers about 50 square kilometers of land along a four-kilometre stretch of road at further connects to Gandhinagar bypass road. It is only the second part of the road, being divided by a railway crossing that is witnessing unprecedented growth while the colonies located at Lalghati have lost all sheen due to the non-availability of water and unattractive surroundings.


Till a couple of years ago, this zone used to wear a deserted look covered as it was with forest and agricultural land. Nonetheless, land prices hovering between Rs 25-70 psf in late 90s were attractive enough for anyone with a vision, be it individuals or construction corn, panies. Hence the area caught the attention of a couple of local developers owing to its serene environment and strategic location.

The airport modernisation project, under which its terminal building was transformed with state-of-the-art interiors and passenger facilities in 2001, triggered development of the area. The rising population and rapid economic growth also contributed to the growth.

The year witnessed rise of about 25-100 per cent in land prices owing to infrastructure development like high-quality roads, street lights in the surrounding areas, and so on.

Says Jayant Mallaya, Minister for Urban Administration and Development of Madhya Pradesh, "Since Bhopal is the capital city of the state, we have evolved a comprehensive plan to develop it as a model of planned urbanisation, to be followed by other cities of Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior. Bhopal is equidistant with metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, especially via air. That's why development of airport is indispensable to leverage this advantage in an optimum manner.

"Now that the airport is observing increasing passenger traffic, meeting infrastructure needs of the area is our top priority as it is where our policies of economic reforms come to fruition," Mallya adds. Consequently, the roads and street lighting system here are the best maintained in the city.

Realty prices moved further northwards after the announcement of the much-awaited approval of internationalisation of the airport in 2005. A host of mega-projects were also declared in the same year.

After government's clearance to the Software Technology Park (STP) in Badwai, some five kilometers from the airport, the Indian software multinationals like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Wipro have planned their IT and IT enabled services (ITeS) facilities in the city.

Besides, the business process outsourcing (BPO) major Genpact has also got clearance for setting up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at an estimated cost of Rs 150 crores and about three SEZ proposals, including one from Bhopal-based Netlink Software, are also in the pipeline.

Hence, the overall environment for corporate investments has improved and since all these projects fall in the airport belt of Gandhinagar and Karond, land prices have hit the roof. Land that used to be available at Rs 1-5 lakh an acre in early years of the decade in the adjoining rural areas commands more than Rs 1 crore now.

According to official sources, Infosys is reportedly hunting for 100 acres in the area with a budget of Rs 100 crores, to set up its sources development facility.


Besides the advantage of excellent maintenance of basic infrastructure, the colonies in the zone fall in the high-security zone because of routine VIP movements. The presence of army is another factor that residents find advantageous.

The airport road connects the base of the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) with the other part of the city. As this army centre is next to the other side of the airport, many army officers are putting up in the area. The other emerging residential colonies of Bhopal like Idgah Hills, Bagh Mugalia and Narain Nagar have lost their attraction as an attractive residential area due to frequent incidents of robbery and murders by dacoit gangs in broad daylight. That's why the residents find presence of army quite comforting.

Availability of water has also proved to be crucial in deciding the preference for a particular area, which is in abundance on the airport area. Because of the Airport Authority of India's restriction on high-rise buildings, no apartments will ever be constructed in the zone. Apparently, the residents won't suffer the usual civic problems that arise due to high population density, like scarcity of water, traffic congestion, poor drainage, etc.

Says Wasiq Khan, Managing Director of Lakeland Builders, "In my view, the USP of the area is its natural surroundings where people can live amidst greenery" Their Lake-pearl Garden project is spread over five acres and is likely to be completed in September. Eighty-five per cent of the 100-bungalow project, where a duplex costs between Rs 20 lakhs - Rs 40 lakhs, has already been sold out.


Acquiring land around airport road is not easy. Delhi-based DLF recently managed to garner 60-acre chunk of land near the Gandhinagar bypass while Parsvnath and Vian Infrastructure are reportedly scouting for land for the past few months.

With this, the prices of plots have been rising at a phenomenal pace. The area has also been experiencing scarce availability of land since more than half of it is owned by the forest department and government bodies like Bhopal Development Authority (BDA).

Nearly all of the plots in posh colonies like Suraj Nagar, Data Colony and Tilak Nagar are owned by individuals and are mainly used for residential purposes. It is pertinent to mention here that the land prices in the zone have already soared by more than 10 times in a short span of 3-5 years. Currently, land prices in Panchvati are treading between Rs 700 and Rs 1,500 psf depending on the situation within the locality. Spread in about 30 acres of prime land, Panchvati spearheads the boom with 100 per cent absorption rates as far as plots are concerned.

The Managing Director of Distinct Infrastructure Limited, Ramakant Vijay vargiya, informed, "Panchvati is by far our most successful project with 100 per cent absorption. All 700 plots spread in about 30 acres of land were sold out long back and now the buyers are re-selling their units with handsome gains."

In year 2000, land prices at Panchvati were between Rs 150 and Rs 185 psf, which after a period of 5-years jumped to Rs 500-750 psf. At present, the minimum price for a 1,500 square feet piece of land is Rs 12 lakh. This way, the prices have shot by more than 400 per cent in the past six years. Property buyers include end-users as well as investors almost in equal proportion. The major property dealer operating in the area, Vijay Wadhwani, observes that non-resident Indians (NRIs), especially from Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and UAE are taking keen interest in real estate investment here.

The demand for luxury bungalows from high net worth families from across the globe is unexpectedly high. Some years ago, nobody thought that there could be clusters of super-luxury bungalows priced at millions of rupees. But such units are not only enjoying high-absorption rates but are selling at a premium.

Agrees Sumit Berry, Managing Director of Aditya Avenue, "There is an awesome demand of lifestyle bungalows like never before. With a growing local economy, people are gaining the purchasing power to realise their dreams of luxury housing." Promoted by Bhaskar Group, Aditya Avenue, lying just next to the Data Colony, sports chains of luxury villas at costs between Rs 20 lakh- Rs 40 lakh per unit. for super built-up size of about 2,200 sq.ft.


As per an estimate by the office of registrar, the real estate market had a turnover of more than Rs 6,000 crores in Bhopal in year 2006- 07. Of this, old Bhopal alone recorded registration of property worth more than Rs 2,000 crore. "Out of the total of this figure of Rs 2,000 crore, about 25 per cent applications were from colonies surrounding the airport road," sub-registrar R.S Chouhan informs.

Estimates point out that properties worth Rs 500 crores exchanged hands in a period of past 12 months, from April 2006 to April 2007, in the belt. Given the present picture, about 60 per cent of the aforesaid areas are yet to be tapped for commercial use and industry veterans are unanimous that the boom is yet to be unleashed.


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