Published On : Mon, Oct 24th, 2016

Ensaara Metropark – was it a viable project to begin with?

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Nagpur: We published on Friday our first story about Ensaara called – another mega project falters, is Nagpur a cursed city? We have realized since then that it is not really Nagpurians who are to blame but the very premise on which such grand projects have been based.

We did a complete survey of the area and spoke to some people living in the vicinity. The Barads, Dr. Pradeep and Dr. Swati were two of them. They have an independent house about 2 Kms before the Ensaara venue which they purchased in 20112-13, just when Ensaara first announced through a blitzkrieg of advertisements.

“I was looking for a house to buy in the Besa area so naturally I called them up to enquire” says Pradeep. “I was shocked when I was quoted a rate of Rs. 6500/ per square feet for a two bedroom apartment in the complex. I knew rates in and around Besa were Rs. 2200/ approx for a decent apartment. Land price was Rs. 2500/ to Rs. 3000/ max. so why would I purchase something that was further away and costed 3 times more?”

“We also did not want to sink our money into an ‘iffy’ deal which it clearly seemed already. Now we have our own house, with a garden area, our privacy and our independence.” Says his wife Swati.

Padmakar Bire, another Nagpurian, a businessman who visited the project when it was on its anvil was also not convinced. He was looking for property for his cousin who was going to retire from the police force and wanted to settle in Nagpur. Padmakar also found the area too far and the rates too high.

“Why would any prospective property buyer venture so far away from the centre of Nagpur – almost 20 Kms away, unless the price was very attractive and reasonable? That is the only reason city dwellers agree to move out into the outskirts, because land rates are affordable and they can go in for their independent house.”

“We were told about the grandness of the project and how the M.D. of Luxora Infrastructure was very ambitious about making it a showcase township, the like of which central India hadn’t seen. The marketing person was clearly working very hard to sell housing there, but could not tell us any practical benefits. Why should I or my friends and family put in money to fulfill someone else’s dreams and ambitions?” Padmakar asks caustically.

The question that came to many people’s minds and eye brows were raised even by other experienced builders was on this very point – why would anyone splurge so much to go live beyond even the outermost perimeter of the city? Why Besa?

The only eventuality in which it made sense to live there was if there was a thriving Software park and a live Business hub at MIHAN – which offered highly paid jobs and business opportunities. But clearly in 2013, MIHAN was down in the dumps with nothing at all happening.

Even as of today, that scene where the MIHAN area can be compared to Pashan of Pune for jobs is at least a decade away.

So was the hype about Ensaara based purely on the reflected hype of MIHAN – a mirage based on a mirage??

Let us take a clear, frank look at Nagpur and see how it is growing organically. Growing today- not how it may develop in some faraway future.

What are the business’ that are thriving in Nagpur today?

Just look at Baldi and the throng of people that congregate there around every holiday season. No wonder traders are ready to pay a bomb to own or rent a shop in that area. Apart from Nagpurians themselves, there are many outsiders who do still come to Nagpur for shopping.

That is not the primary reason for their travelling though. But it is a fact that almost all well to do people living in Chattisgarh – Raipur, Bilaspur and Bhilai areas and people living in M.P., not to mention other parts of Vidarbha come to Nagpur for medical treatment. (Just as some affluent Nagpurians go to Pune or Hyderabad).

Most private medical complex’ are again based in the Baldi, Dhantoli and Ramdaspeth areas. Though it is a fact that Nagpur is dotted all over with hospitals – small and medium sized.

That is the sunrise ‘industry’ of Nagpur – if you can call it that. Another reason why Nagpur is an attractive proposition to outsiders are its private Engineering, and other professional colleges. Students from outside, from other states even, are still coming to Nagpur for college education.

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Now just consider how far any decent hospital or school/ college is from the site of Ensaara. All 15 – 20 Kms away.

Remove MIHAN and the ‘proposed’ International airport of Nagpur and what do all these ‘townships’ coming up in that area have to offer – nothing!

The question therefore emerges – how did those professionals who are trained to make feasibility reports give an OK for Ensaara?

Because the fact is emerging that one of the main reasons the grandiloquent metrocity project did not take off is it did not find many takers. This fact is acknowledged by the management of Luxora Infrastructure too in some interviews. They have blamed it on the ‘economic slowdown’ witnessed in the whole country then and it could be a factor. But the main impediment for Ensaara was its location coupled with high pricing.

The few investors they found are mostly NRIs who originally belong to Nagpur to whom the proposed ‘metrocity’ may have looked lucrative and affordable too – compared to such properties in the Pune-Mumbai areas – on paper. They made an initial down payment on it. But in their first visit after that, after having been to the site, they were filled with doubts and misgivings too.

So another reason given out by Luxora Directors was that investors faltered on their subsequent payments.

The two reasons combined resulted in funds available for the grand scheme drying up soon and a financial crisis looming.

The sub contractors who were working on the project did not have a clue of this and continued working.

Today there is any number of contractors – big and small – who are owed money in crores and lakhs.

Employees haven’t been paid for at least 6 months and have left en mass. That is the main reason that the swanky ‘site office’ is closed.
Now the few investors are clamoring for a return of their funds.

How Luxora Infrastructure management is going to make its way out of this quagmire would be interesting to watch.

If it wasn’t so sad…