Kolkata and its fringes are likely to see a multitude of small housing projects in areas like Rajarhat, E M Bypass, Diamond Harbor, Garia and Kona Expressway over the next twelve to eighteen months, according to developers.
“Kolkata could see launch of at least five to six new projects within the city limits. In the fringes, as many as 40 new projects are being lined up. Post budget, the sector will further look up,” said Pradeep Chopra, chairman and managing director of Kolkata-based PS Group of Companies. Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Realty, who launched projects like the City Centre Malls and housing estate Upohar, is too planning to launch another housing project in south Kolkata by the end of this year, albeit a smaller one.
“There is demand in general, though there is no boom in the market. Also, there is a hope that interest rates will come down after budget, which will also lead to more investors’ interest in the real estate market,” said Neotia.
In Rajarhat too, where there has been a sloth in activity over the last one or two years, construction activity has picked up.
“In Rajarhat the growth in the number of small sized housing projects is quite phenomenal,” according to Neotia.
Traditionally, Kolkata has been regarded as an end-users, rather than investors market, which has kept the real estate sector immune to sharp price movements in other parts of the country.
“Kolkata is always a steady market. Quite a number of projects are being launched in the city and its fringes. The market is always evolving. We have about three to four projects in the pipeline,” said Pradeep Sureka, managing director, Sureka Group.
In spite of a number of small projects lined up to be launched, land is posing a problem in launching big projects.
“The problem in the real estate market in Kolkata is not with demand, but with land. Whatever land is available, it is divided in smaller parts, which makes it difficult to launch mega projects,” said Neotia.
One of the biggest hurdles in developing new townships in West Bengal is the the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act (ULCA), 1976. According to the Act, the ceiling limit on vacant land in a category ‘A’ city like Kolkata is 7.5 cottah or about 500 square meters.
West Bengal is one of the few states in the country to have a legislation like the ULCA. Recently, the West Bengal government had formed a task force to look into the issues related to allotment of large land.