Property shops are back at Noida Extension. Buyers have begun making a beeline. Builders claim bookings have resumed. Even as the uncertainity over housing projects has not completely lifted, bookings - at higher rates - have begun. Builders have hiked flat prices by Rs. 200 to Rs. 400 per square feet for new bookings. After a statutory committee of the national capital planning board (NCRPB) on Thursday cleared Greater Noida's master plan, builders have claimed resumption of housing projects - stuck for eight months now - is "only a step away."
Prospective buyers were on Sunday seen making inquires with real agents of builders. "Yes, the market is gradually picking up," said Braham Pal, a broker. "We resumed our places here only today. Builders have hiked rates by Rs. 200 to Rs. 400 per square feet and resumed bookings," said Kundan Singh, another broker.
"I came here from Delhi's South Extension area. Agents are saying the master plan will be cleared in the next 20 days and construction will start. They claim once the projects resume, there would be another hike of Rs. 200 to Rs. 500 per square feet," said Vikas Sharma, a businessman.
According to an earlier court order, work will resume only when the NCRPB clears the plan. "It's the statutory committee which examines technical details. If it has cleared the plan, the board's nod is only a formality," said RK Arora of realty major Supertech.
But the Greater Noida authority looks cautious. "We're keeping our fingers crossed. Our first priority is to get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the NCRPB," said Rama Raman, authority's chief executive officer (CEO).
A similar atmosphere enveloped Noida Extension in October last when the Allahabad high court ruled builders could keep the land provided farmers were paid additional compensation in lieu of their land acquired. It was a major relief because the court heard farmers of 38 villages, who had accused the state government of forcible acquisition and sought their land back.
But the relief proved short-lived as the court also ordered the authority to get its master plan approved by the NCRPB before construction could start. The NCRPB and its committees have since then held several meetings but the plan has remained unapproved because of several planning-related discrepancies. "It may take 15 days for the NCRPB to grant the approval," Raman said.
Farmers of several villages have moved the Supreme Court against the high court order. If land goes back to farmers, the affordable housing dream would be shattered
Plan gone awry:
Kiosks of sales agents are reappearing but the uncertainty - which began more than a year ago - over what was once a bustling hub for property business continues. In 2008, the authority allotted land in some villages today known as Noida Extension. Since land was acquired for industries and allotted to builders, farmers moved court, seeking their land back and leaving thousands of homebuyers in the lurch.
The first blow:
Even if Noida Extension is back to witnessing some real estate activity, it is nothing compared to the rush before the high court dealt its first blow in May last year by quashing land acquisition in village Shahberi. Since the Supreme Court later upheld the order, the 6,500 flats booked there never came. Builders claimed their either refunded or relocated the buyers.
Larger bench relief:
A second blow came when the high court quashed acquisition in village Patwari - where 20,000 flats had been booked - in May last year. At this stage, the affordable housing dream at Noida Extension - where 2.5 lakh houses were planned and 1 lakh booked - looked doomed. But a larger bench in October last year offered more relief to farmers and upheld land acquisition in Greater Noida.