Developers’ rush triggers 20-fold land price surge.
Jaitapur, site of a proposed 10,000-Mw nuclear power project, and surrounding villages in coastal Ratnagiri and adjoining Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, are emerging as favoured destinations for land deals.
Information gathered from the state revenue department and local farmers reveal prices have escalated to Rs 40 lakh per acre from Rs 2-5 lakh in 2005-06. They expect this trend to accelerate as state-run Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) kicks off project development.
The immediate trigger is NPC’s intention to provide a per-acre land compensation of Rs 10 lakh for project affected persons. In addition, there is other development on or planned. Sajjan Jindal’s JSW Group has commissioned 600 Mw of a 1,200-Mw imported coal-based power project and a jetty is being commissioned for captive use. And, there are at least 10 minor and medium-sized ports being planned by the state government.
A revenue department official, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard, “Jaitapur and villages in its vicinity are hot destinations, as they are situated along the coast. There are ample opportunities for tourism development, such as hotels and resorts and holiday homes in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, which are famous for mango and cashew cultivation. Nearly 110,000 tonnes of mangoes are produced annually from these two districts. Further, Jaitapur and surrounding villages can house non-polluting small and medium industries and units from the services sector.”
He said one guntha (1,000 sq ft) was fetching a paltry Rs 10,000-20,000 in 2005-06. The same unit now costs Rs 2-3 lakh.
The official said the entire region was in demand. “Land is currently being acquired by developers and individuals from Mumbai, Thane, Pune and even from other parts of India. The trend is to go for mango plantation or construction of small hotels and resorts. Some have also expressed intentions to develop container yards in view of the development of exsiting ports and those in the pipeline,” the official said.
An NPC official, engaged in the planning and implementation of the Jaitapur project, explained: “The development (of the project) will ensure well-developed road infrastructure and assured power supply, apart from promotion of services. This is similar to what has happened in the Tarapur area in Thane district where Nuclear Power Corporation launched power generation in the 1960s. The entire region has transformed and so will be the case of Jaitapur and surrounding areas in the next few years.”
Vivek Bhinde, president of the Ratnagiri Zilla Jagruk Manch and a leading mango cultivator, admitted land prices were soaring and there was a mad rush for acquisition. “This is quite interesting, as locals are still opposing the project, mainly on environment grounds, despite clearance given by the ministry of environment and forests. Some of the buyers are keen to develop a land bank and make fortunes in the future,” he added.
Amar Desai, entrepreneur in the agriculture and horticulture sectors, said, “There were hardly any deals just five years ago. The per-acre land was priced below Rs 1 lakh or even at Rs 50,000 in some deals. But the ongoing debate over Jaitapur has attracted global attention and people are coming forward in big numbers to purchase land, preferrably along the coast.”