Homes and gardens

Call it ‘inclusive’ real estate

Phase 1 of Cybercity Magarpatta

Phase 1 of Cybercity Magarpatta  

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Magarpatta township project near Pune returns the benefits to previous landowners in the form of urban assets, thereby creating a new model of growth. By M.A. Siraj

Magarpatta, the brash, young township on the outskirts of Pune, has emerged as the first model of private land pooling and cooperative development. It sprawls over 430 acres of land claimed from farmers two decades ago. It now hosts a community of 35,000 residents with commercial complexes spread over eight million square feet, that take around 85,000 workers on an average day. But these statistics do not make the transformation exceptional.

The township is owned by people who lost their farmland and opted for a unique and inclusive model of real estate development. Within 20 years their fortunes have witnessed a breathtaking turnaround. The farmers of yore now live in modern homes, own stakes in new commercial assets that yield rents, and have themselves turned into entrepreneurs with regular incomes. How did the change come about?

Magarpatta was a sleepy village till 1995. The 157 families inhabiting the village near Pune who owned 430 acres of farmland were closely knit through kinship into a clan bearing the ancestral surname ‘Magar’. Having jealously guarded their land for centuries, they were apprehensive that the clan would scatter if any land shark persuaded the individual families to sell off their holdings for development. But they were equally perturbed with the declining farm incomes, merely ₹ 40,000 from an acre. Plunging water table and unavailability of farm hands were worrying them too. Led by Satish Magar, a graduate in agricultural sciences, they came together and decided to be prime stakeholder in the land and the future development and keep the integrity of the clan and families intact by ensuring their future livelihood.

Consortium

The community members persuaded Mr. Satish Magar and his five brothers, all professionally qualified, to lead the pack as the family itself owned around 100 acres of the 430 acres of land the village had. They took a decisive plunge, canvassed for cooperative development and roped everyone into the scheme. A consortium was put in place.

From day one, the objective for the project was inclusive development and the determination that no one would be deprived of his landed assets. For the outsiders who aspired to be the buyers of apartments, sites or commercial space, the slogan was ‘Buy a flat, get a city free”.

Entrepreneurship

The common fear that individual sale of small parcels of land would bring them only a pittance and would also cause community to disintegrate, crystallised the resolve to stay united.

The consortium identified around 75 youth who could be trained in various skills required for development of the land into a city where residential areas will entwine with commercial complexes and they together would be interspersed with green spaces. The youths were trained in carpentry, plumbing, construction, and fabrication, as electricians and gardeners and landscapists.

The services of Pune-based National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR) were availed of for on-site training of the youth. The official process for converting agriculture land into one meant for residential and commercial purpose took five years. All land-holders were allotted pro-rata stakes in the future township with either flats, plots or open areas or shares.

Says Mr. Satish Magar, who is Managing Director, Magarpatta City Group of Companies, ( currently National President of CREDAI also), “We trained the farmers to be entrepreneurs and money from land sale proceeds started flowing into their accounts from day one. The basic idea was to turn the raw material into a fine product and it was patterned after the Amul experiment.

The project reached completion in 2018. It has 8,000 housing units and 8 mn.sq.ft area under commercial leasing. Of this the company has sold two mn.sq.ft. The former landholders now receive pro-rata income from the remaining six mn.sq.ft. commercial space that has been leased.”

Magarpatta has now 800 shareholders and it has emerged as the first model of private land pooling and cooperative development. The group has floated two more projects Naded City with similar development over 700 acres with 11,000 houses, and Riverview over 500 acres with 15,000 housing units. Both offer around 2.5 to 3 mn.sq.ft. commercial space.

Carbon-positive

Magarpatta is a carbon-positive city as its manages its sewage, water and power needs. A 6 MW solar power unit generates power. Rooftop solar panels cater to the needs of the commercial lighting. The Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) recycles 4.5 million litres of sewage per day. Ten tonnes of wet garbage serves as feed for four biogas plants. Solid garbage is sold to vendors who recycle it. Most of the rainwater is harvested to be channelled into 32 old wells that now work as percolation pits.

Civic amenities

Says Zuber Sheikh, a partner in the architect and planning firm which designed the development, the built-up residential area in the Magarpatta city is only 20%. Fifteen per cent is under roads, a similar portion has been assigned to amenities such as grass courts, clubs, stadium, fountains, traffic roundabouts, biogas plants and transformers, and 35% for gardens. The farmers who gave away the land for development now run bakeries, restaurants, laundry, grocery stores and catering outlets.

The Magarpatta township today boasts of 25 clusters of 350 to 400 flats each and 18,000 trees. Commercial traffic does not mix with residential traffic. It also has an aviary, a lake and 3-km jogging track.

According to Mr. Satish Magar, the total asset value of the township is of the order of ₹6,000 cr. today. On an average anyone who gave up an acre of land today owns assets valued at ₹3 crore to ₹4 crore.

Taking a few cues from the success of the Magarpatta project, the State government has brought in certain changes in the Maharashtra Township Development Act whereby the landowners’ interest could be safeguarded.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 3:02:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/call-it-inclusive-real-estate/article30051039.ece

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