Price graph: 100 times in 10 years - Bihta fertile belt transforms into industrial zone

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By JAYBROTA DAS AND ANAND RAJ
  • Published 14.09.14
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Patna, Sept. 13: An IIT, hospital, beer and cycle plants have helped escalate Bihta’s land prices by almost 100 times in 10 years.

Back in 2004, a cottah in Bihta’s Amhara village cost something between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000. The rates have now gone up to Rs 15-20 lakh. The projects mentioned above are coming up in what was once a huge farm belt. Thus, an entire fertile belt is turning into an industrial zone.

There are other reasons, too, for the escalating prices. The Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (Biada) does not have enough land with it now. So, farmers who have small clusters of land are selling them directly to investors through middlemen. Since Bihta is just 35km from Patna, most companies are queuing up for a plot in the new industrial town.

“Rates skyrocketed once Bihta was declared an industrial zone in 2008. People who sold clusters in 2004 at Rs 25,000 a cottah are cursing their luck now, as just a few metres from the sold plots, land is now selling for Rs 20 lakh a cottah. This is a tremendous rise,” said Pappu Singh, who sold his land in Jamunapur, just a kilometre from the upcoming IIT campus, in 2006.

Had he waited till when all the development took place in and around Bihta and sold the plot now, it would have fetched him a lot more. “Kam se kam Rs 20 lakh milta abhi (The least I could have made was Rs 20 lakh),” he said.

The Indian Institute of Technology’s Patna campus is only 50 per cent ready. Even the 500-bed ESIC hospital-cum-medical college is half done. However, the Molson Coors Cobra and Hero cycle plants are up and running.

Apart from these big four, Biada has received at least 19 applications from investors for plots in the Bihta industrial area. This means at least 19 companies are interested in the satellite town.

The Telegraph approached some land brokers posing as prospective buyers. Om Prakash Singh alias Suggi Singh, showed us three plots, one of them a few 100m from the IIT campus.

“A single farmer is willing to sell it at Rs 20 lakh a cottah,” he said. Once the IIT becomes operational, the same plot would fetch more and might double in a year or so, he said.

The broker showed another plot in Jamunapur village, barely a kilometre from the IIT campus, which would cost Rs 9 to 10 lakh a cottah. Yet another plot 2km from Jamunapur cost around Rs 5 to 6 lakh a cottah.

If the upcoming projects see the light of day, Bihta’s face would change drastically and send a positive signal to other industrial zones and give a major impetus to the state’s business. “There is no doubt Bihta is the next paradise for real estate developers,” said N.K. Thakur, honorary secretary, Builders’ Association of India.

He went on to explain the dynamics of the price rise. In 2004, land price was not more than Rs 25,000 a cottah here. “It has grown 100 fold by now.” He said most plots on both sides of the 5-km stretch from Amhara to Bawan Lai have been acquired to build apartments or service houses (like hotels but rented out mostly to students’ guardians and faculty kin) because the IIT is close by. Thakur said: “A mini township is in the offing at Bawan Lai. Around 150 acres have been acquired.”

Asked who would be interested in such apartments, he said: “Retired persons, former teachers and bureaucrats.”

Sachin Chandra, the chairman of the association, said: “Bihta is the next big thing. The government has plans lined up for the town. If those materialise, prices would further escalate.”