The real estate sector has become one of the most diverse and complicated fields in the market today. From being a simple transaction of a measured piece of land from one owner to the next, real estate now is broadly used for anything and everything associated with land. But for a majority of the interested customers, real estate means flat-apartments. And at the moment, the construction sector has become one of the lynchpins of holding the state's economy together.
Land demand has always been high for a state like Kerala.
“The high population and density as such are not the true reasons for the sky-rocketing price of land and housing in Kerala,” says Haridas S, Executive Officer of CREDAI, Trivandrum “The availability of land per person is very low in Kerala. A good percentage of the total surface area is taken up by the rough, unfriendly terrain of the Western Ghats. The remaining strip of land is sliced through with more than forty rivers and long stretches of backwaters. So, negating out all this, there is very little land available for the huge growth that's anticipated for the state, and hence the ever increasing price and demand for property in the state.”
Trivandrum is now being seen as the most promising place for the real estate sector after Cochin. Over a hundred apartment flats are being rumoured to spring up in the NH bypass stretch in anticipation of the tremendous growth.
“The entire sector is exploding with growth right now. Housing prices has increased many manifolds during the past decade. The strain of having a house built in the city, combined with the cost involved, would turn the current generation into almost entirely into buying flats. Also the growth in the IT sector is going to bring a lot of professionals from other states and they would want to settle down in the security of an apartment, rather than going for individual homes,” observes SBI Chief Manager Avinash Kumar.
But the prospect of growth in Trivandrum is not as bright as it seems, except for maybe, the IT sector. The expansion phases of Technopark and the upcoming Infosys campus are a few lone bright spots.
Other than the IT sector, Trivandrum hasn't got much to offer to a prospective investor, at least in a realistic sense. Most of Trivandrum’s major developmental projects of, including the Vizhinjam harbour, Monorail and the completion and expansion of NH bypass remain stalled at various stages. The tourism industry isn't sitting pretty either, with revenue inflows largely limited to the beaches and resorts along the Kovalam–Vizhinjam–Poovar coastal belt. No sizeable plans have been charted for improving the tourism prospects of the city, or the district as such.
Even the city’s existing and projected infrastructural condition presents a picture of contradiction compared to the promises. The existing development trend has left around 40% of the land under utilised due to poor planning. The improvement works that have been made foreseeing the needs of the city for the next 15-20 years are by no means adequate for the projected growth.
“The master plan that has been prepared for the city does not have sufficient scope to accommodate the kind of future that the real estate dealers are claiming. There are too many gaps in the plan which have to be rectified at the earliest to avert a major crisis,” opines Deputy Mayor Happy Kumar.
But at present the real estate sector isn't worried about an impending crisis.
“The rate of land development in the city is presently so behind compared with the other major cities in India, that the demand and price for land and housing is only going to get higher, unless in the event of a major, completely un-foreseen disaster, like a tsunami,” says Haridas.
“And all the big projects would get realised eventually because those developments have to come in the city purely out of necessity,” assures SBI Chief Manager Avinash Kumar.
So, in the end, the real estate sector, especially the construction field, is expected to continue its growth story. While it is meant to accommodate the projected future, the same indirectly causes depletion of natural resources through sand mining and other such activities. With land getting robbed of its natural resources and when assured promises turns out to be false, the bubble generated by the surging demand could eventually burst. Standing at the doorsteps of a bright future, Trivandrum could just as easily slip and fall down from the heights. Only time could tell how the city is going to survive the fall.