Saurabh Sharma | Dec 2, 2019 | 6 min read
Property dealer Mohammad Irfan, 60, is a busy man these days and has been dealing with more than 20 clients per day who are looking for land in Ayodhya of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Irfan, who goes by his moniker ‘Nanhe’ due to his short height, while showing the empty land to his clients mentioned that not even a single resident of Ayodhya could have ever predicted that property rates would shoot up in this town.
“If you had come to me earlier, I could have helped you get this plot worth Rs 40 lakh for less than Rs 10 lakh,” Nanhe tells his client while discussing rates. After the Supreme Court verdict on November 9 regarding the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute, prices of land have shot up, because a rise in tourism and business opportunities in Ayodhya is predicted as the construction of the Ram Temple begins and with it, many ancillary industries will have the opportunity to capitalise.
Walking down the memory lane, Nanhe tells his client that many families from both the Hindu and Muslim community had moved to other places after selling their properties at throwaway prices but now the rates of properties have multiplied.
“The rates have increased up to six folds in the town after the Supreme Court passed its verdict in the Ayodhya-Babri title suit,” he told Forbes India.
He mentioned that people from neighbouring areas such as Delhi, Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Varanasi are approaching Ayodhya to purchase commercial properties at reasonable rates as they know that Ayodhya will now be developed by the government and this place will have a lot of commercial value in the coming future. The rate of property per square feet, in a radius of about four kilometres from the proposed site of Ram Temple, was not more than Rs 400 per square feet, but the owners have increased the price up to Rs 1,200 square feet now, he informed.
Nanhe added that properties near the Karyashala (where stones are collected for the construction of the temple), Naya Ghat (The new Sarayu river bank) and Mahobra (a locality close to the famous Hanumangarhi temple) have shot up in demand for the construction of hotels and restaurants by mid-level investors, while the big shots are eyeing for bigger properties around Ayodhya. The demand for the properties on the Sarayu river bank is increasing, and many investors are also looking for older buildings to repurpose it into a heritage property in the district, he explained.
Prices go up in neighbouring areas
Nanhe mentioned that he has been getting a lot of queries for plots of land on the Lucknow-Gorakhpur highway which passes through Ayodhya from people willing to construct hotels and resorts.
He mentioned that he’s been getting at least 10 calls each day from prospective buyers who want to buy a plot of land along the highway and are ready to premium prices. He stated that the prices for such plots have crossed Rs 2,000 per square feet while mentioning that he doesn’t deal in them. He asserted that the land will be developed for commercial use and a major chunk has already been sold to hoteliers and other businesspersons.
Anil Kumar, 31, a resident of Kanpur who owns some parental property in Rudauli situated 40 kilometres away from district headquarters Ayodhya, highlighted that while he was struggling to find customers before the Ayodhya verdict, a lot of people are approaching him for the same property now.
“To sell some property in the past, I had to struggle, publish newspaper advertisements and do many things for over a year, but the property worth more than Rs 2 crore could only fetch Rs 1.5 crore. However, things have changed now,” he asserted.
He mentioned that one of his other properties in Rudauli, a 12,000 square feet property worth Rs 5 crores, wasn’t getting any offers. However, within two days of the verdict, people started approaching him. He is in touch with a developer from Delhi, and he “hopes to sell it for Rs 6 crores or more.”
Control real estate hike
Recently, on November 2, the UP government approved a budget of Rs 447.46 crores for the development of Ayodhya as Ram Nagari, the city of Lord Ram. The amount is to be used to purchase 61.38 hectares of land in Meerapur area for erecting a statue of Lord Ram and the construction will be done with the help of corporate social responsibility funds. The money will also be used for tourism development and beautification work. A digital museum, library and other tourism facilities will also receive funds for development.
Ambereen Saeed, 40, a Lucknow-based architect, stated that developers and real-estate giants have suddenly shifted their interest to Ayodhya from other cities owing to its commercial value.
Speaking to Forbes India, she shared that the commercial value of Ayodhya has now multiplied due to its religious importance. Earlier, the people were refraining from buying property owing to the dispute, but things have changed entirely now and several projects in Lucknow have been kept on hold and the total concentration of developers is on Ayodhya now, she added.
“Builders and developers are seeing Ayodhya as a gold mine with good return of investment and this is the reason that the temple town will see a lot of infrastructural changes in the coming years,” she commented.
Nishant Upadhyay, a conservation architect and consultant with UNESCO, told Forbes India, “Such sudden socioeconomic changes in sacred geography invariably lead to gentrification where the local community is forced to sell their properties owing to economic pressure and demand. Their profit is one-time, but they are alienated from their own land and culture which in turn also impacts the cultural landscape itself negatively. The site becomes eventually a hub for unsustainable tourism and aggressive hotel industry which leads to the eventual loss of the cultural and spiritual values of the sacred landscape.”
He highlighted it leads to various infrastructure problems like insufficient sewage capacity, water demands, improper food facilities and pollution of the local water source, Sarayu river. “There should be a mechanism in place to protect land rights and control the real estate hike,” he added.
Pictures by: Saurabh Sharma
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