Signboards of Levi's Reebok, Nike and Adidas - symbolic of the consumption pattern of the locals - greet you as you enter Bhiwani in Haryana, in contrast to the bumpy roads on way to the town, some 125 km from Delhi. Another 70-80 km, and you are in Mahendragarh, where a Muthoot Finance's office and an under construction DPS (Delhi Public School) are the first landmarks.
Bhiwani and Mahendragarh, besides Bharatpur in Rajasthan, are the latest entrants in the NCR (national capital region), which already has 16 districts spanning around 38,000 km in its kitty from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. While there's excitement around the new-found status of these places, questions are being asked as to whether the move would boost the economy or bring any development to these areas. Among other things, many real estate consultants are weighing the option of doing a price projection survey for the new NCR locations.
Bharatpur in Rajasthan, which houses the famous bird sanctuary about 200 km away from Delhi, has already started seeing signs of real estate development. On the Jaipur-Agra highway, Surya Builders and Developers is constructing a small gated apartment society, where possession for 20 residential units (2BHK) has already been given, while another 20 are being built. "Many in Bharatpur want to shift to apartments now. And some are coming from outside to work as the region has some mustard oil factories," Anurag Garg, director, Surya Builders and Developers, said. (ORGANIC GROWTH
A university is also coming up in Bharatpur, which is expected to improve the economic prospects of the area. The region sees tourists in the sanctuary mostly towards the end of the year.
People here are mainly engaged in farming and small shops such as grocery, trading and other trade supply material. Houses here are mainly old construction, except in Bharatpur where new buildings have come up.
Locals in Bhiwani and Mahendragarh sound cynical about infrastructure development in the regions anytime soon. "There would be no increase in realty prices until real development starts. The government has only announced a decision," a Bhiwani resident said, whose another link to Delhi is Sadar Bazaar, from where he sources goods for his grocery shop.
Bharatpur is more upbeat. "Property rates will increase after this announcement (being included in NCR), even if nothing else happens," a shop owner said. The market here does not boast of any fashion brands here, unlike in Bhiwani. "We go to Agra or Jaipur to buy good fashionable clothes," another local said.
While in Bhiwani, property prices are pegged at Rs 3,272-4,857 per sq ft, those in Mahen-dragarh are between Rs 2000 and Rs 3000 per sq ft. Bharatpur residential segment is a little over Rs 1,500 per sq ft and industrial plot comes for over Rs 150 per sq ft. The government is also planning three rapid rail transit systems Delhi-Alwar, Delhi-Meerut and Delhi-Panipat, which will be operational by 2016 and expected to improve connectivity in NCR.
Whether the addition in NCR will improve the infrastructure or promote any industry in these areas will be known only after three to four years once the implementation starts and funding pours in. Till then, realty prices are expected to increase by 10-15 per cent just on speculation, experts tend to think.
Rajeev Bairathi, executive director, north, Knight Frank, said, "The brand image will definitely improve. The market will start looking at these areas with a different perspective now. But, it is unlikely there will be any substantial increase in realty prices in the next two to three years just because these places are added to NCR."
Industry watchers say there is already enough potential which is yet to be tapped in the earlier districts of NCR such as Alwar, Neemrana and Sonepat. There might be some increase in prices due to speculation, but the market won't withstand it for long.
Anil Kumar Sharma, president, CREDAI-NCR, said, "Merely adding these areas to NCR will not serve the purpose unless infrastructure is developed in a rapid and planned manner."
Pointing out the decision should be followed up with preparation and implementation of the master plan as soon as possible, Sharma said, "Otherwise, builders will start accumulating land, leading to a speculative rise in prices."
In a meeting of the NCR Planning Board earlier this month, the decision was taken to include three more towns in NCR. The NCR Planning Board extends loans on lower rate of interest for the development of the constituents of the region, which now comprises 11 districts in Haryana, 6 in Uttar Pradesh and 2 in Rajasthan. The Board has also named Jaipur as counter magnet area for NCR.
As of now, at least one thing common to these three towns is that even as eating joints are hard to come by, liquor shops are in a plenty.