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Airport spells gold for land investors

Govt has not announced final site in Pune,but land prices in villages nearby have gone up.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | May 7, 2012 1:45:14 am

Though govt has not announced the final site,land prices in villages nearby have gone up; middlemen have mushroomed.

In the 11-km stretch between Koye-Pait-Kadus,about 48 km from the city ahead of Chakan,everyone knows that the patch of land on the left of the winding road is the ‘likely-to-be-proposed’ site for the Pune International Airport. While the officials concerned continue to offer ‘no comments’ to keep the location a secret,rising land prices in the fringe villages tell a different tale.

Post March 27,after the State Finance Minister allocated Rs 438 crore for five airports in Maharashtra,land prices in the belt have witnessed 40-60 per cent increase. While investors are lining up to buy plots,farmers,who hold 90 per cent of the land,are refraining from selling them,hoping that prices might go up further. Agents are cropping up,and villagers are holding meetings to oppose the airport — all this,when the government has not called the site a proposed airport location.

What forms part of the discussion in village panchayat at Koye is the story of how a 5.5-acre plot was sold for Rs 1.18 crore (Rs 21.5 lakh per acre) in April in Dhamne. “This was the only transaction in the recent past. People are not selling their lands because the rates can go up further after the official announcement of the proposed location,” said S M Waghole,talathi of Koye village. “The prices started increasing when the earlier site — Shiroli-Chandus — was cancelled and the discussions of this site started doing the rounds. From Rs 7 lakh then,the prices today are over Rs 20 lakh per acre for plots along the road.”

Six km ahead of Koye is Pait. In a village of 4,500,there are 15 middlemen. Besides,20-22 middlemen flock into three hotels in Pait to settle deals. Narayan Aherkar,a middleman,agrees that he makes more money than the farmers who sell the plots. “The farmers are happy if they get ‘a particular’ price for their land. We know what the land is worth,now that the airport is likely to be proposed. We approach investors with the actual worth,which is way above what the farmers expect. Middlemen bag more than the actual land price,” says Aherkar.

According to Aherkar,roadside land rates have gone up from Rs 7-8 lakh per acre to Rs 12-15 lakh per acre in January-February. In April,following the budget announcement,the rates rose to Rs 18- 20 lakh per acre. In the surrounding wadis — Tekawadi,Palu,Waghu,Hedrus — the rates for roadside lands reached Rs 12-15 lakh from Rs 8 lakh in January-February. A guntha is no less than Rs 2 lakh if located along the road.

Compare this with the government rate of land,which is Rs 1.25-1.5 lakh per acre. Clueless about the acquisition process but aware of the earlier protests,the villagers are thinking of protesting against the proposed location. Koye has already witnessed three-four meetings with a majority voting against the airport. Why oppose? No one knows. “The other villages protested. There must be some reason. Why shouldn’t we,” asks Deepak Rale,villager. “The protests won’t last longer this time as NCP dominates most of the gram panchayats here,” says Hari Roundhal,villager,Pait.

A meeting was held recently at the commissioner’s office in Pune,which was attended by representatives from the Khed tehsil office. However,Rohini Akhade Phadtare,tehsildar,Khed,refused to comment. S D Chabukswar,sub-registrar said,“The rates have gone up by 40- 50 per cent since the budget. But no one is selling,hoping the rates might go up.”

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