AHMEDABAD: To say that expressways are lifeline of urban centres would be like stating the obvious. The expressways across the country have been a connecting point of the main city with the periphery locations, thus, ensuring that satellite cities are sustainable for the working class who otherwise cannot afford to buy a house in the main city. In the process, expressways also act as catalyst in providing a boost to the economy of the region.
In plain real estate terms, these satellite towns have proved to be the only affordable destination for most of the urban cities. Some of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) also flourish across the expressways. However, the story of one expressway in Gujarat goes beyond just serving as the lifeline for the real estate sector and economy. Ahmedabad Vadodara Expressway is not only a connecting point but it is, in fact, cross connection of the vibrant economies of two cities i.e., Ahmedabad and Vadodara. As far as property market is concerned, these two cities attract nearly two thirds of the entire market size of the state.
Hence, it is not just the SMEs that have flourished along the stretch of this highway but the real estate market has also seen an upward movement along the Ahmedabad Vadodara Expressway. As a matter of fact, the big ticket corporate presence in the region indicates that the expressway has been a catalyst in the growth of the region. It is estimated that most of the big ticket investments in these two markets, of late, have been along the stretch of the expressway.
Hence, no other expressway is as much strategically positioned as this one and it has helped in the growth of the Gujarat real estate market, to a very large extent. Manan Choksi, regional director, RE/MAX MGM, agrees to this and says, “The strategic importance of Ahmedabad Vadodara Expressway for Gujarat property market cannot be denied. It has reduced the travel time from Ahmedabad to Mumbai and between all the main cities of the state. The movement of goods and people has facilitated trade like never before. People can easily commute from Nadiad/Anand/Vadodara to Ahmedabad and vice versa and this has led to increase in the floating population in Ahmedabad. A lot of warehousing options have also come up in the either ends of this expressway.”
“However, at present, the opportunities seem limited. The expressway does not provide the much needed incubation. However, if proper planning is done, then it can be a gold mine. For example, if entertainment options are built up in middle of the expressway, then it would be a big attraction for the crowd in the near by cities. Further, it is one of the most industrialised segments in the country and I think that more opportunities exist here. It is known as the golden corridor and more services are more likely to develop along the expressway,” says Choksi.
Analysts in this part of the world suggest that more efforts should be taken for the fast track growth of property market along Ahmedabad Vadodara Expressway. However, to facilitate more development along the expressway, there should be more exits. At present, once you enter the expressway, then the next exit is only in Nadiad and Anand before Vadodara. Hence, more exits will help in developing other towns. Apart from the exit, there should be more flyovers. This will ensure that one can cross the expressway instead of going around the entire road.
Some of the other suggestions include different pricing for peak hours and off peak hours, as the expressway is mostly not used by trucks at present and they still use the old national highway. This results in underutilisation of the infrastructure. So, may be during the off peak hours, the toll can be reduced to say half, to drive more traffic. Emergency services should also be placed at frequent intervals. Further, expressway should be extended up to Mumbai.
Sachin Nigam, president and business head, CRISIL Real Estate Ratings, says, “Ahmedabad and Vadodara are the key economic centres of Gujarat. A hassle free connectivity between these two cities, through the expressway, has gone a long way in improving the trade and commerce in the region. Both the starting and end nodes of expressway have already seen large scale economic development in the form of industrial development and resultant impact of real estate development.”
He adds further, “The expressway is expected to play a significant role by facilitating smooth transport connectivity within the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and hence, would be critical for overall economic development of the stretch. Property market will also be impacted by the overall economic activity (direct and indirect).”
Experts suggest that the property market growth along any such stretch could be driven by creation of economic cluster and pockets, further aided by smooth entry and exit points. It would be critical to identify placement of such clusters and the implementation should be done in a systematic and phased manner, without hampering the smooth functioning of expressway.
Probably the best example of the success of this expressway is the fact that the property prices have gone up by around 50 per cent along the stretch in the last three years. This appreciation, at a time, when the market sentiments are low, indicates that in the next few months, Ahmedabad Vadodara Expressway will become one of the key investment areas and the region will lead the property market to a new high. Many of the developers from Gujarat and even neighbouring markets of Mumbai and Pune are already exploring the feasibility of land acquisition in the region. Thus, this shows the way forward for a new investment destination.