On a dusty by lane off the National Highway number 5 (NH5) which is a part of the ambitious golden quadrilateral project started during the Vajpayee era, Babloo a land broker is on a call with Srinivas the NRI son (living in the US) of a middle class parents. This is about 45 kms from the heart of the city of Vishakhapatnam also known as Vizag “The city of destiny!” – A beautiful city nestled at the edge of Eastern Ghats and the ferocious Bay of Bengal known for its pristine beaches and a golden coastline. Of late it was in the news for all the wrong reasons after being pounded by cyclone hudhud.
Meanwhile the land broker is busy haggling with Srinivas who works in Dallas, USA about a couple of hundred rupees per square yard which he deems difficult to concede, especially given the fact that the piece of land is much closer to the highway. “They are selling like hotcake everywhere, everything closer to the heart of the city is already taken! Especially given the fact that you have to be politically connected to get some land around Vijayawada the new capital” says Babloo.
A number of sources have revealed the same story that everything in Vijayawada needs a certain level of influence and most of it has already been settled by the dominant ones (politically) and the well connected owing to various other reasons. Vijayawada has been declared as the grand capital of Andhra Pradesh by Mr. Chandrababu Naidu the Chief Minister of the state who plans to build it on the lines of Singapore.
In Vishakhapatnam the story seems to be slightly different with land still being available although at highly inflated prices that have quadrupled since the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh split into two. A number of companies have since then sprung up in the residual state of Andhra Pradesh (which goes by its parent name) that have been offering land at highly exorbitant rates.
Some of these companies like Nivas properties are using novel methods like email marketing to target the NRI’s spread in the US and other countries, especially the large Telugu community which is spread across the US. Some of them go with a catch “Sea view from First floor (if constructed)!” Others measure the distance from the beach. 2000, 3000, 5000… You name it. Unfortunately to many of the fisherman communities living around, the distance is several hundreds of thousands of feet from this prized land, in spite of them living so close to it.
There is an intense competition playing out between Chandrababu Naidu the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and K Chandrasekhar Rao the Chief Minister of Telangana that has excited the NRI’s living in the US from both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. While K Chandrasekhar Rao popularly known as KCR plans to develop Hyderabad further on the lines of Istanbul in Turkey and Shanghai in China, Naidu is readying plans to transform Vijaywada into Singapore complete with a newly built skyline.
And this is where the NRI picture comes into play says Dev who runs a travel agency cum real estate brokerage based in Chicago that helps mostly NRI’s from India. “The NRI’s from both Andhra and Telangana want to invest heavily in the newly formed states, as they want a piece of the cake too!” says Dev.
We soon plan to hold an exhibition showcasing various property builders and companies dealing in real estate pertaining to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana if the demand continues says Dev.
Mohan Ganti a database developer in the bay area (California) who has a penchant for investing in stocks says “With the onset of the new Modi government, currently everyone is bullish about investing in India. I have doubled my investment in the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange). But what better investment mode than land? Land in India is always a good option”
But some other NRI’s are a bit cautious, an Indian restaurant owner couple in Kuwait speaking through phone say that they would like to wait and watch before they invest in Vizag where they hail from. One of them says “While the prospect looks good for Vishakhapatnam, I am worried about the beach eroding the land and the sea level rising constantly. You know the sea has come closer more than half of what it used to be in Vishakhapatnam compared to when I was a kid. On the top of it there is always a threat of cyclones due to climate change and global warming”.
His wife chides him in a loving tone saying that he has become a bit more paranoid after watching all the climate change movies and eventually he would blame his bald head on climate change too.
The recent grant of an IIM (Indian Institute of Management) which incidentally is also to be set up at Vizag (Vishakhapatnam) in the new state of Andhra Pradesh has further heated up the scenario. Some companies are also suggesting that it would be a good option for young NRI’s who can resettle back in India closer to such a world class institute (hoping that it would become by then) after they resettle and maybe even send their kids to study there. Resorts have sprung up everywhere in Vishakhapatnam and Vijayawada catering to such NRI’s who are used to the western standards of living complete with golf courses, saunas and Jacuzzis. Golf carts are being used to transport guests within such facilities that are sprawling over several hundreds of acres.
But not everything is rosy in this real estate bubble. There are some NRI’s who have burned their fingers too investing in land in Andhra, duped by some dubious companies who have made them fork out several lakhs of rupees as token advances. They are not responding to the numerous visits of such hapless NRI’s who are being represented by their old parents and anxious relatives. Mr. Rao, the unsuccessful parent of one such NRI says “They say we are still waiting for the Land Permit! And they are blaming it on the administration. The government needs to chip in and help those of us who have been cheated” he adds further “After all it’s our hard earned money!”
As the western sun sets on one such land bought by an NRI in Andhra Pradesh that is being fenced, a poor mother and her little son try to sell some buttermilk to the laborers trying to eke out some money. India still needs to take care of such NRI’s (Not So Rich Indians)!”
By: TheIndianMuse @theindianmuse