Indian Real Estate: Transforming Amritsar
People crossing over from Wagah into India will soon be subjected to the razzle dazzle of Amritsar as real estate developers plan to pump in big money to make the city a rival for the golden glitter of the Golden Temple.
Delhi based realtors of repute have added a spurt to real estate activity in the sacred city of the Sikhs by building malls, multiplexes, villas, luxury apartments and penthouses. Further, the Government of Punjab’s plans to set up special economic zones (SEZs) has triggered the interest of the builders and developers, alike. Yogesh Verma, DLF Universal’s Managing Director says: “If not the best in the world, then definitely the idea is to make Amritsar the best city in the country.”
Just the same way as they transformed Gurgaon, these developers plan to wreak their magic on Amritsar, changing it from a city with an ancient past and glorious history to the most hip and happening Indian town. “This would also boost tourism and provide better connectivity with the Wagah border.” Verma adds. Religious tourism and an international airport should have seen the city develop much earlier, but that did not happen despite its potential.
That will all change as the DLF group plans to bring global standard infrastructure in the 1,100 SEZ, investing approximately Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 5,000-crores in the border city. Verma affirms DLF will spend Rs. 800-crores alone in upgrading the infrastructure to international standards. With the SEZ project already underway, the development will take place in four segments, including textile and garments, engineering, food processing and free trade zone.
With 35-million sq. ft. of development underway, and plans to invest more than Rs. 10,000-crore in various cities of Punjab, undoubtedly DLF will change the very face of Apna Punjab. The 2,500-acre SEZ between Ludhiana and Jullunder will be home to state of the art housing, infrastructure, industrial and retail sectors, with its own captive power generation. And, DLF is not restricting itself to Amritsar alone; it has active plans to move on to real estate development in Chandigarh and other Punjabi cities.
Apart from DLF, there are numerous other builders that have evinced an interest in giving Punjab and nearby Haryana a shake-up, dust-up and image makeover. Advance India Projects Ltd., Omaxe, Today Home and Infrastructure, MBD group, Dynamic and Continental etc. all have their eye on Punjab, as they busily plan a dozen malls in the region, while Clarion brings English country style living to rural Punjab, building sprawling luxurious bungalows and buildings reminiscent of an English country town.
Ansals building a township in Kundli, Haryana has similar projects planned for Mohali, Jullunder, Bhatinda and Chandigarh. While, the Punjab government has given the go ahead to eight of their ten projects, the remaining two will also shortly be sanctioned by Punjab’s babudom. And, DLF’s group housing and township project with an investment of Rs. 1,000-crore has also passed muster from the Punjab government, with plans to build a mall each for Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala, Mohali, Chandigarh, and Jullunder. Commenting on DLF’s sudden surge of interest in Punjab, Verma said: “The state is ripe for real estate and infrastructure development. DLF has the best credentials for this. We are keen on making heavy investments in the state.”
As the real estate developers give Punjab a complete makeover, it is to be hoped Apna Punjab will still be recognisable even as rural villages get transformed with a lick of high gloss and spit and polish of metro cities. It is to be hoped there will still be a place for the rehriwallah and the many others, who add colour and make interesting the landscape of India. A landscape that is so different from the bland, boringness of the western cities, all rigid planning, so very organised that one screams for just a little imperfection, just a little waywardness, just some more character and colour, so typical of a city in India. Cities that express the contrast between two cultures, the west so cold of temperament and lacking emotion, not knowing how to think from the heart; the other all chaotic emotion and random freedom of expression, everything analysed and tinged with the emotions of the heart.