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Real estate boom hits land productivity
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2008-01-19 City : Chennai

The rates of vegetables are baffling many a consumer nowadays. While tomato has established to some extent compare to its previous rage, the price of lady’s fingers has gone up by 40 per cent. The deluge of cauliflower in the market is reassuring whereas potatoes are costing almost five rupees more per kilogram. Bottle gourd, which was considered a low-cost vegetable with a price tag of Rs.5 apiece during previous winter, is now a game for Rs.14, that too in Rythu Bazar. Thankfully, coriander is not pricey, though the rate has spiralled in case of curry leaves. A few varieties of leafy vegetables are totally out of market. On the whole, the prices of vegetables have decidedly gone up. The impact will certainly be felt after February.

     The period between October and February was previously the vegetable buffet of the year. With increased production, there would be a deluge of vegetables in the market with reduced prices. However, with the large scale conversion of agricultural land into real estate properties, it is not the case anymore.

     All the lands where vegetables were grown previously are now themselves becoming vegetables what with their speculative value far surpassing their productive value. The phenomenon is more obvious in Ranga Reddy district where a number of mandals have recorded drastic reduction in horticultural production. The surge, or rather the decline, began with Maheshwaram mandal where, sources say, almost 90 per cent of the lands have been sold and sealed. Originally a flower and vegetable hub of Hyderabad, Maheshwaram has lost its past significance after the proposal of Fab city. It gained international recognition after NRIs started buying several acres of agricultural land here. Proximity to the international airport has added to the real-estate value of the agricultural lands.

 

Sudden rise

 

     Till about three years ago the cost of an acre of land in mandal head quarters was around Rs.50, 000 to Rs.60, 000. It spiralled to Rs.30 to Rs.50 lakh per acre by 2005 and to Rs.80 lakh to Rs.1.30 crore by the end of 2006.  

 
 

     The adjoining mandals of Shamshabad and Kandukuru too gained an accretion in their real estate value thanks to the International Airport and Outer Ring Road projects. With land space in these areas on the verge of exhaustion, the demand is spilling to the rest of the mandals in Ranga Reddy. “The realtors are now looking to areas such as Ibrahimpatnam. Villages such as Kongarakalan, Nadargul and Adibhatla in this mandal have gained rates in recent times due to the proposals of SEZs, Software Park and the ORR, “Venumadhav Reddy, the Director of Honey Dew Infrastructure Ltd., said. He also speculates growth in demand for lands in Amangal and Keshampet mandals of Mahabubnagar, Shadnagar and Kottur are already up for grabs.

 

Wide gap

 

     On the other end, much space in the Hayatnagar mandal had already been divested from agriculture after Film City came up, Places in Medak have also been rendered barren. The symbiotic relationship shared between the city and its surrounding villages is now on the verge of destruction. Though it is very typical of cities to develop at the cost of its fringes, in case of Hyderabad it has happened at an alarming pace. And this development has a cascading effect too, as the erstwhile farmers who have become rich with real estate wealth are buying up lands at other locations –not to cultivate, but to speculate.

     Though the phenomenon has behind it many historical and cultural factors leading to the de-glamourisation of farming, what assumes currency is that there is a noticeable reduction in the availability of horticultural products. The gap between demand and supply will only widen in future.

 

Disturbing trend

 

     “We used to grow a variety of vegetables such as yam, tomato, brinjal and onions previously.

     Many farmers had wine yards cultivated through drip irrigation.

     Now, tomatoes and leafy vegetables are scarce while grapes have gone out of sight,” says Harikishen Reddy, a farmer of Manasanapalli.

     He recalls the days when he would return from the flower market with Rs.20, 000 in his pocket.

    

     The Assistant Director of Horticulture Parthasarathi Reddy acknowledges the reduced vegetable production. He brings into focus the disturbing trend of big farmers buying up lands from small and marginal cultivators in anticipation of higher rates.

     “Vast tracks of land can be seen lying idle with fences built around them in places such as Maheshwaram, Moinabad, Medchal, Shamshabad, Keesara, Ghatkesar, Chevella and Shankarpalle. Though farming is still carried out in places such as Doma, Parigi and Gandeed, vegetable production has come down by almost 50 per cent,” he says.

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