Thursday, July 19, 2018
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Expectations belied

Poor execution has dashed the hopes of a thriving property market in the BBN industrial belt14 Jul 2018 | 1:12 AM

The industrial belt of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) is a perfect example of planning going haywire as here an urban slum has been created instead of a planned township with proper infrastructure and good returns on real estate investment.

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The industrial belt of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) is a perfect example of planning going haywire as here an urban slum has been created instead of a planned township with proper infrastructure and good returns on real estate investment.

This industrial belt was projected as a real estate goldmine after it witnessed a boom in investment about 15 years ago with the central government announcing a financial package for the industries. Keen to capitalise on the gains that investment upsurge brought to this area, a large number of investors evinced keen interest and set up commercial ventures. The area promised high returns as 2,202 industrial units were set-up with an investment of Rs15,288.38 crore during the peak investment period.

Slip-ups mar a bright beginning

As per the information available with the Town and Country Planning Department, as many as 30 housing colonies were given licenses where 6,700 flats, 742 plots, 1,615 shop-cum-offices and a mall were supposed to constructed in the BBN area.

Fifteen years on, the dream appears to have been shattered as there are few takers for commercial ventures like the Motia Plaza, which is an apt example of the demand that was never generated. Even the state’s first Homeland Mall, which was set up with much hype, has failed to emerge as a profitable venture. Scores of empty showrooms speak volumes about the decline in its commercial value.

The development of basic infrastructure, too, has failed to match pace with the growth in population. As many as 101 clusters of slums are visible all over the area where a population of 15,667 people resides. These had cropped up even on the precincts of major housing colonies like village Chakka. All of these are enough to scare a buyer. The much-needed four-laning of the key Baddi-Nalagarh National Highway-22, too, has been caught in red tape for more than five years and the area is yet to get rail connectivity.

Sore points

The area was dubbed as critically polluted as per its comprehensive environment pollution index study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board some years ago and the situation has not improved till now. The huge volume of trucks transporting goods added to pollution in the area, thus affecting the quality of life.

“The quality of life is abysmally poor in the BBN industrial belt as it offers neither quality educational institutions, nor good healthcare facilities. The increasing air pollution, traffic influx and a rising crime graph are the main deterrents for any buyer,” says Ajay Kumar, an industry executive, who commutes from Panchkula to Baddi daily.

Though a few educational institutions did become operational here in the past few years, industry executives have remained hesitant to invest in housing here. This has upset the plans of developers who had started projects here by offering properties at cheaper prices as compared to those in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh areas nearby.

Spead over 318 sq km, a majority of flats have been bought by the large industrial houses to provide temporary residential facility to their staff in BBN. Lack of security and several instances of serious crimes have played a spoilsport as most senior executives prefer to stay in Panchkula or Chandigarh. Thousands of such industry executives commute daily but do not stay here. A slew of regulatory measures have been introduced by the state government to safeguard the interest of the buyers. It has been made mandatory to furnish a sale deed while seeking a power connection. This has put on hold mass sale of flats which were initially bought by middlemen to be sold later on a considerable profit.

Waiting for better days

Till now positive developments like opening of quality hotels have failed to give it the much-needed uplift. Despite renowned Indian and multinational companies operating their manufacturing units here, the area has not become an ideal destination for habitation. The fact that BBN provides 30% of Himachal’s employment, too, has failed to boost the real estate fortunes here.

QUOTE

"Living here with families is a distant dream. Early rail connectivity, four-laning of the key NH-21-A and adequate funds to maintain its internal roads are some of the key issues that can help improve the quality of life here". Arun Rawat, Former Chairman,CII, Himachal Pradesh


Living here with families is a distant dream. Early rail connectivity, four-laning of the key NH-21-A and adequate funds to maintain its internal roads are some of the key issues that can help improve the quality of life here. — Arun Rawat, Former Chairman, CII, Himachal Pradesh

Expectations beliedArea watch: Baddi, Barotiwala, Nalagarh. Tribune photograph
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