Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Apartments aplenty but beyond their reach

Apartments aplenty but beyond their reach

Monica Jha



"Apartment, apartment everywhere, not a single one to live in," sings Rakesh Pillai, a young IT professional, mimicking the Ancient Mariner's wail.
The youth's mimicry has a touch of pathos reflective of the common woe the working youth in the IT belt in Mahadevapura constituency confront.
"I have been looking for an apartment in this area. All the places that I have seen are either dingy or too expensive. Many apartments do not have any open space between two blocks, turning the houses into dark rooms. I will die of depression there. A few decent places that I saw were far beyond my budget," says Sangeeta Rai, a BPO employee.
Almost all IT employees DNA talked with had this agenda on top of their grievances. "There are miles and miles of apartments in various stages of construction and yet one does not get a small good room to live in," she says.
The new BBMP wards — Hoodi, Garudachar Palya, Kadugodi, Hagadur, Dodda Nekkundi, Marathahalli, Varthur, and Bellandur — have witnessed a construction boom never before seen anywhere in Bangalore. Huge apartments, fancy villas, and splendorous mansions also have liberal sprinkles of dingy rooms and skyscrapers to cater to the massive young working population.
The IT boom pushed the property rents and prices through the roof, fleecing the young earners of their moolah, and after the bust and recession, when the envied salaries have been slashed, the property prices are not coming down.
"Properties here are either too expensive or downright dirty," admits Shyam Sundar, an employee who works with Sathya Sai institution. His words seem to sum up the troubles millions of IT workers face today. "They offer holes not good for cattle," is a complaint one often hears in this part.
Land prices have pierced through the horizon, admits Subbha Raju, former corporator and a prominent resident of Kadugodi. When he bought land in this part in 1994-95, it was sold in cents, not in square foot. "An acre of land was worth Rs4 lakh to Rs5 lakh. Today, it will fetch anything between Rs4 crore and Rs5 crore," says Raju.
Unreal rents and prices of properties continue to haunt the working population of the IT sector in this constituency, and nobody believes this hapless population when they say the golden paydays are over. But Irshad Ahmed, a real estate agent, places the blame squarely on the IT crowd who, buoyed by high salaries, paid rents asked for. So does Ravichandra TL, a BPO employee, who says that flushed with high salaries, IT employees committed the mistake of going in for a buying spree and now face the music.
Frenzied construction has another unsavoury result. "Unbridled construction to cash in on the influx has led to utter environmental chaos in the whole area," says Leo Saldhana, convenor of Environmental Support Group. "The area was once blessed with scores of tanks and lakes but most of them have disappeared," says Ravichandra TL, a BPO employee.

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