City homes, country roads

K. Sukumaran
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The condition of roads leading to new housing projects in the suburbs is bad or worse. Some thoughts from K. Sukumaran

Bangalore has been battered by negative publicity in recent days. Yet, there appears to be no serious threat to the growth of the housing sector here. According to consulting firm Prop Equity, compared to the drop in sales in the National Capital Region and Mumbai Metropolitan Region, there has been very little ups and downs in the prices in Bangalore. This may be the reason for quite a few new launches during the just concluded festival season. Even new developers are starting their ventures in Bangalore.

If we take a ride around the Outer Ring Road we can see the real estate growth in the BBMP and nearby areas. There is hardly any space left without construction, either finished or semi-finished. Almost all ‘outskirts’ too are filled with new projects. Some prominent areas beaming with construction activities can be grouped into the following ‘extensions’:

North: New airport road, Yelahanka, Devanahalli and Doddaballapur Road

South: Hosur Road, Bannerghatta Road, HRBR and Anekal road

East: Banaswadi, K.R. Puram, Marathalli, Whitefield and Brookfield

West: Tumkur Road, Jalahalli, Hesarghatta Road and Nelamangala.

Kengeri and Bidadi on the south-west on Mysore Road can also be included in this cluster.

But what is of immediate concern is the condition of the roads leading to the new projects in the developing areas.

Most of the new projects quote ‘attractive’ prices as compared to the city areas and road or no road, the investor is lured to ‘book’ a flat or buy a plot before prices hit the ceiling. The promise of a ‘posh’ or ‘decent’ locale remains a promise even after the apartments are complete and the process of handing over the flat to the owner is done with.

One has to ponder over the need for at least a semi-developed road, lest you find your vehicle stuck in the mud, which problem remains for many months and even a couple of years till the owners or resident organisations shell out money to upgrade the approach road. The developers are also finding the going tough to dispose of the left out and surrendered apartments.

They try to attract investors by offering freebies like modular kitchen, modern furniture, festival discounts etc. Some of them get a VIP for inauguration of the flat as a route to improving the roads.

Property market and infrastructure

The critical role of roads and other infrastructure needs to be well understood by all stakeholders in the property market.

Even traders shun areas where the roads are in a bad condition. Lack of good roads and parking place can force even the leading brand outlets to move out /relocate.

The increasing number of malls too is a challenge to even well-established shopping centres as they have better ambience apart from other facilities under one roof. Prices of property will also be adversely affected when roads and other infrastructure are not well developed.

A recent report about posh shopping areas like M.G. Road / Brigade Road and Commercial Street losing their sheen needs to be taken as a prelude to worse days to come.

Some possible plans for the city’s roads and infrastructure

Ward-wise road development plans be put in place.

Sanction for new projects should essentially include plans for road development.

In addition to arterial roads, access roads to new projects should also find a place in the city’s annual plans.

Rubberised/concrete roads which may have longer life to be preferred to usual asphalt roads.

Maintenance of roads be entrusted to specialised agencies.

Loopholes in awarding work contracts be plugged and stringent standards prescribed despite opposition.

Other infrastructure like water supply and drainage to go hand in hand with property development instead of waiting for Cauvery water for years together.

Property prices and demand for houses cannot be viewed in isolation. It will be in tandem with the various infrastructure needed for better living and enhanced quality of life.

If this is not achieved, the demand graph will not hold on for long.



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