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Yamuna Expressway: Land prices up 50 times!

Last updated on: September 13, 2010 09:05 IST

Yamuna Expressway: Land prices up 50 times!

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Atanu Kumar Das in New Delhi


The Uttar Pradesh government is not the only one to rejoice the Supreme Court's dismissal of an appeal against acquisition of agricultural land for the Yamuna Expressway connecting Noida and Agra. Real estate developers are uncorking the bubbly, too.

The value of land around the expressway has already gone up an eye-popping 50 times in less than a decade.

Nine years ago when the state government acquired land to connect Noida with Greater Noida with an expressway, it paid farmers Rs  50-300 a sq m. Today, in the same location, the Jaypee group building the Yamuna Expressway and a 2,500-acre Sports City (with a cricket stadium and Formula-1 race track) is selling plots at Rs 15,000 a sq m.

Similarly, Supertech recently launched a 100-acre project called UpCountry along the expressway with independent plots priced at around Rs 12,000 a sq m.

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Image: Real estate developers are making a killing on projects along the corridor.

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While Jaypee group is responsible for a large part of the real estate activity along the road to Greater Noida, even the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority is selling land parcels to real estate developers at nearly 14 times the acquisition cost.

"We acquired the land from Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority at around Rs 4,170 a sq m and last month we were selling the plots at around Rs 11,250 a sq m and have now increased that further," said R K Arora, CMD, Supertech.

So, developers such as Jaypee and Supertech are charging up to 50 times the cost at which land was acquired from farmers and all in a span of less than a decade. In contrast, prices for independent plots in Noida have appreciated only five to six times in the same period.

Around 60 kms away in Tappal village of Aligarh, which is close to the epicentre of the land acquisition controversy, farmers are demanding more compensation for their land.

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Image: Developers are making a ton of money.
Photographs: Reuters
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"Initially, we were paid Rs 350 a sq m. Once the agitation started, the price was gradually increased to Rs 450. But still we felt cheated as neighbouring villages like Gopalgarh and Badalpur were getting Rs 880 and Rs 1,500 a sq m, respectively. Finally, we were offered Rs 570. It is still below our expectations," said Kuldeep Choudhury, a farmer from the village.

In Aligarh's Zikarpur village, which is at the centre of the uproar against the Mayawati government's land acquisition, some farmers said they would be happy with a compensation of over Rs 800 a sq m. "We are not averse to giving land, but the compensation should be adequate. Right now, we feel that our land is being forcefully taken by the state government," said farmer Anwar Ali.

There are, of course, others unwilling to part with land on the ground that it is fertile and essential to their livelihood. "They can pay me any amount, but I am not going to give up my land. Our land here is very fertile and we can have three different crops in a season. We do not want any townships here," said Deshraj Singh, a farmer in Zikarpur village.

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At Rs 1,500 a sq m -- the price reportedly being paid in villages such as Badalpur -- the appreciation in land value is probably close to the levels seen in Noida.

Jaiprakash Associates, which is part of the Jaypee group, said the appreciation was due to the Yamuna Expressway and that prices have risen by 400-500 per cent in the last few years. "If you have infrastructure development, then real estate is bound to get a boost," said a company executive.

Besides, Santosh Kumar, chief operating officer at consultancy firm JLLM, said the increase in prices is the result of development that is taking place due to the expressway, as well as in anticipation of a proposed airport in Greater Noida.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Whatever the reason, given the steep premium that developers are charging, even compared with the price at which they purchase land from the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority, it is no surprise that land along the 22-km stretch from Noida to Greater Noida is a hotbed of construction.

Sam Chopra, director at Remax India, a subsidiary of a US real estate agent, said that once development work is over, developers would have invested close to $25 billion (around Rs 1,20,000 crore) into projects along the Noida-Agra expressway. "What you are seeing today is only 5-6 per cent of the real estate development that is likely to happen," said Chopra.

Nearly 20 developers have either announced projects or have started construction along the Noida-Greater Noida stretch, though the investment proposed or data on the area under construction is not available. Jaypee alone has six residential projects along the expressway.

The expressway, which is mandated to be completed before April 2013, is expected to easily meet that deadline. "We are on course to finish the 4,042-acre expressway well before schedule and plan to make it operational by December 2011," said Sameer Gaur, director-in-charge, Jaypee Infratech.

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