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Kolkata stirring again

The one-time business capital of India is finally stirring again albeit at a slow and steady pace, reports Ashok Kumar.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2006 19:31 IST

The one-time business capital of India, which had been all but written off for various reasons, is finally stirring again, albeit at a slow and steady pace. The economic boom which is slowly taking Kolkata under its sway, encompasses most of the sectors, and that includes the property sector at the forefront.

After a decade long lull, construction activity in Kolkata is at an all time high, and in fact the city is steadily moving from its once sleepy and laid back trance onto the fast lane. This has been largely attributed to the many Information Technology (IT) parks that are being set up in the city. It is said they will soon take the city into a flurry of enhanced economic activity.

The city is now being promoted as an investment opportunity to Non-resident Indians (NRIs), domestic and international investors. It is noteworthy that almost all residential constructions coming up in and around Kolkata and its suburbs are already largely sold out. IT and commercial spaces are changing hands at unheard of prices in the city.

A tour of the city indicates a rapidly changing architectural texture and the development of several self-contained housing complexes in areas such as Jokha, Rajarghat, Tollygunj and Ballygunj. The concept of buying homes within the precincts of a condominium is also fast catching up which has encouraged builders to move to suburbs to undertake development projects.

NEW DELHI: The Indian capital too has witnessed a huge surge in property prices. However, most of the bigger construction activities are taking place in the satellite areas of Delhi rather than in the city itself. Over the years, townships such as Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon and even Hindon have witnessed furious construction activity with prices on the ascent.

The concept of self-contained complexes is rapidly catching up in Delhi and builders are also aiming to change the city from the 'bungalow' lifestyle to living in flats, alongside luxurious amenities such as pools, gardens, jogging tracks, health spas and round-the-clock security. In fact this is the marketing strategy adopted by most prominent builders within the city.

However, redevelopment within the city itself has not taken place although the neighbouring areas are showing rapid development which is more than evident from the fast changing landscape. Where there were vast expanses of open spaces, construction activities are on at full swing with projects in various stages of development.

There is also the slow change in mindsets, whereby people do not mind traveling in to work from the suburbs. Industry experts expect the boom in the real estate sector to continue for another half decade or so.

Overall then, the economic boom in India is well reflected in its booming real-estate market. The big question remains, though: can this scorching pace of growth be maintained, or will the inevitable slow-down upset the apple-cart?

Well, the first sign may well come from the bourses, where real-estate stocks have risen vertically and reflect dizzying valuations.

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