Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Steel Mills Give Way To Tech Parks, Residential Townships

Steel Mills Give Way To Tech Parks, Residential Townships
The Times of India

Bangalore: The Whitefield mills are giving way to gleaming modern highrises.

It is a phenomenon similar to that in Mumbai, where hundreds of acres of textile mill land are being sold to property developers. In Whitefield, the steel, metal and engineering hub is giving up traditional businesses and using the land to develop large residential complexes and technology parks.

Cap Steel has sold its 39 acres in Whitefield to the Brigade Group, which is setting up a large integrated township on that property. GR Steel has entered into a joint venture with Salarpuria to develop its 15 acres into a technology park. Bhoruka Steel, sitting on some 40 acres in Whitefield, is said to be in negotiations to sell part of it (about 15 acres) to property developer DLF, and use the rest to develop a technology park. Kamani Metals & Alloys, according to sources, has recently sold its 30 acres to a Mumbai-based developer. Usha Martin Industries has given its 20-acre property to Rohan Builders.

“Land prices have gone up to between Rs 3.5 crore and Rs 5 crore. So many land owners are either in sell-mode or entering into joint ventures for development of property,” says Mahesh Laxman, head of Chesterton Meghraj Property Consultants, Bangalore.
The Whitefield Industrial Area is one of the oldest industrial zones in Karnataka. Large amounts of private investment came into the area to service public-sector majors like HAL, BEML, ITI and NGEF, all of which had huge facilities close to Whitefield.

Today, many of the older small and medium industries are closing down because they are either not viable, or it has become more lucrative to convert it into residential or commercial spaces for the Bangalore technology industry.

Many manufacturing companies like Graphite India, Southern Steel, Bhoruka Gas, United Oxygen, Alfred Herbert still operate in Whitefield. But industry sources say it’s a matter of time before most move out of the area altogether.

The area is attractive to the tech industry because many facilities are of high standard. “There are good powerline and water connections since the area is earmarked as an industrial zone,” says Rupa Bidap, urban planner with SCECreocean India, a France-based organiser putting together a new comprehensive development plan for Bangalore.

However, roads and safety are concerns for residents. There is only one police station in the entire area. “Many roads are not lighted and can be a scary experience, specially for women returning home late from work,” says Sudha Bhakthavatsalam, a resident of Whitefield.


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