Mumbai: As the car speeds towards Panvel, one sees just miles and miles of uncultivated land. This sprawling tract called Pushpak Nagar in Dapoli near the proposed Navi Mumbai airport is now turning into a real estate gold mine for farmers and villagers.

Developers, high-networth investors, land speculators and real estate agents are buying up plots in bits and pieces from the locals. They expect a huge property boom and a subsequent rocketing of land prices once the airport comes up in a few years.

The villagers are not complaining. Each acre commands an eye-popping Rs 20 crore (over Rs 60,000 a sq m), said local property market sources.

But Sanjay Bhatia, chief of the local town planning agency, Cidco, pegged the selling rate at below Rs 10 crore an acre. “However, we expect the plot rate to more than double to Rs 1.5 lakh per sq m (Rs 60 crore per acre) when the airport becomes operational,” he told TOI.

“Builders are slowly taking over. They have realized the future development potential of this zone,” said Navi Mumbai property developer Manohar Shroff.

Cidco acquired a total of 721 acres from these villagers as their plots fell under the airport zone.

Government norms earlier stipulated that each land owner must receive 12.5% area of the plot size surrendered in an alternative location fully developed with requisite infrastructure. When the villagers affected by the airport development protested, the government hiked the compensation to 22.5% with a further commitment that Cidco would also set up the civic infrastructure for them. This is over and above the land allotted to all the residents for building houses for their families. As many as 1,195 families are eligible for the plots.

Cidco has announced a floor space index (FSI) of 2 for such plots, thereby increasing the development potential and value. FSI 2 means that on a 4,000 sq m plot (one acre), the developer can build up to 8,000 sq m.

“In fact, we have been encouraging the villagers to hold on to their plots and sell when the market appreciates. But it seems some of them do not want to wait,” said Bhatia. Cidco officials have counselled them to aggregate their land parcels and develop it on the lines of the Magarpatta Model in Pune. In Magarpatta, 123 families pooled in over 400 acres of farmland and set up a company that developed a commercial-cum-residential project.

But in Pushpak Nagar, many villagers want quick returns and do not have the patience to wait. A local estate agent, not willing to be identified, said he is marketing “two Cidco allotted plots with 22.5% scheme for development”.

“These plots are near the proposed airport and have clear land titles. If you are interested please revert or call me. I can arrange meetings with all the authorized people of this plot for further discussions and deal,” he said.

Bhatia said the local farmers are sharp and knowledgeable. “They know the value of their plots,” he said. In the 1970s, when Cidco had first started acquiring land from villagers, they were paid a few hundred rupees per square metre. “Today, they realize that the surrounding area commands a rate of over Rs one lakh a sq m,” he added.

Subhankar Mitra, head, strategic consulting (west) at JLL India, said areas around the Navi Mumbai airport like Ulwe saw a major “price hype”. “Rates doubled in the past five years. Places like Ulwe had no civic infrastructure, yet the speculative growth was 20% a year at one time,” he added.

The airport site is located in an area of around 2,800 acres (1160 hectares), accommodating two parallel runways.

The Navi Mumbai Airport will be developed through the PPP model (public-private participation). A special purpose vehicle will be formed in which Cidco will hold 26% and the rest will be held by the private developer. The total project cost is pegged at Rs 16,000 crore.

BOX: Villages re-located due to the airport project

BOX II:

Navi Mumbai Airport

The project cost, which was pegged at Rs 4,766 crore in 1998, has increased to Rs 16,000 crore at present

First phase of the project is expected to be complete by 2019 with a passenger handling capacity of 10 million; optimal capacity of 60 million will be ready by 2030 and make it the largest in India

Total airport area: 1,160 hectares

Planned with two parallel runways

Designed to accommodate the new large aircraft compatible with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Aerodrome Code 4F

Total carpet area of terminal building: 5.23 lakh sq. metres

Total carpet area of cargo complex: 2. 02 lakh sq. metres

Vehicular parking:

Automobiles: 5,500

Motorcycles: 3,500

Bus parking spaces: 130

Cargo trucks: 60
Source: TOI-MUM