Located in the Sahyadri ranges and between two big cities, Mumbai and Pune, the belt that houses the hill towns of Khandala, Lonavala and Talegaon has been a lucrative destination for land developers.
The scenic area, which falls in Pune’s Maval taluka (sub-district) became famous after several Bollywood stars and rich businessmen built their weekend homes there. The area is located 80 to 90 km from Mumbai and 40 to 50 km from Pune. The real estate boom in Mumbai and Pune led to a demand for bungalows here. The 97-km long Mumbai-Pune expressway provided better connectivity.
Once Lonavala and Khandala were saturated, developers turned to Talegaon. Strategically-located plots are sold for Rs 30 lakh to Rs 40 lakh per acre. A spurt in construction led to several complaints of land grabbing.
Of the 94,000 agricultural properties in Maval very few are under cultivation, said Pradeep Thatte, a real estate agent from Lonavala.
In October last year, following slain activist Satish Shetty’s efforts, Lonavala’s sub-registrar Ashwini Kshirsagar was suspended for allegedly preparing fake documents for land transactions. Almost 11,000 land transactions are currently under scrutiny.