The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Land rate races to 100-cr mark

Calcutta land rates are poised to score what its favourite son is desperate to — a century.

As Sourav Ganguly practises hard to score big in Bangladesh, realty players are determined to bid big on the Bypass.

For a five-acre plot in Chandra Garden, opposite Science City, going under the hammer, the reserve price will be set at no less than Rs 500 crore, says a Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) official.

This will raise the price bar in Calcutta to Rs 100 crore per acre — matching the Bangalore high and within respectable distance of Mumbai and Delhi (see box) — a significant jump over the previous EM Bypass mark of Rs 35 crore per acre, set by Emaar-MGF last year for a six-acre CMDA plot.

Now, Reliance Retail is ready to fork out “more than Rs 500 crore” for a five-acre CMC plot, says the civic official, adding that the RPG Group, the DLF-Hilton combine and Welcomgroup are also in the fray.

Mayor Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharyya has decided to invite sealed tenders for the Bypass plot. The tender document will be finalised by the third week of May.

“A few years ago, a chunk of land was sold at Rs 1 crore per cottah in Hyderabad (working out to Rs 60 crore per acre) and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if five acres on the Bypass fetch double or more now,” says the mayor.

A cottah had also fetched Rs 1 crore at Bedi Bhavan, Gol Park, recently, setting a Rs 60-crore-per-acre record in the city proper.

But the focus now is very much on the Bypass, where the Emaar-MGF bid revolutionised the land rate chart. Initially, a public-private link kept prices down. Then, city-based realtors refused to raise the bar or aim big.

The no-risk policy of the city realtors — fearing consumer backlash if the raised cost was passed on, they now argue — kept land rates far lower than the other metros. “An acre on the Bypass would cost no more than Rs 6 crore till not so long ago,” says Abhijit Das, regional director of property consultants Trammell Crow Meghraj.

Now, the rules have all been rewritten, with the battle for Chandra Garden billed to push Calcutta rates past Bangalore and closer to Mumbai.

“This shows the biggies are betting big on Calcutta. It also augurs well for the Bypass, which is fast becoming the Chowringhee of tomorrow,” adds Das.

Leading the charge is Reliance Retail, buoyed by its Rs 30.33-crore deal clinching the Park Circus Market last week.

“In a metropolis like Calcutta, a large chunk of prime land is rare and so, its price can’t be determined by conventional market forces,” says municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay, justifying the auction route.

The CMC is next planning to put another five-acre plot, also close to Science City, under the hammer.

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