TANGMARG: In less than a decade, the four-lane highway leading to all-weather tourist destination, Gulmarg, has pushed the real estate prices in this suburban area of north Kashmir to the level of most prized properties in the Valley.
In 2005, the authorities took up construction of the 24.5 km Narbal-Tangmarg highway with a cost of Rs 116 crore. The project, part of the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Programme, was completed without much hassle, linking Tangmarg to the state’s summer capital Srinagar.
The consequent reduction in the travel time to and from the city along with the increased inflow of tourists added commercial value to the areas along the highway. Simultaneously, the real estate prices skyrocketed.
According to the locals, the prices of land here have more than tripled in the recent years.
“Once the highway was complete and operational, we started to witness escalation in demand of the land. Subsequently the real estate prices shot up too,” Ghulam Ahmad Rather, a resident of Dhobhiwan here, told Kashmir Reader.
“A decade ago, a kanal (5400 sq ft) of land here would cost just a few lakh rupees. But now the same area sells for not less than Rs 60, 00, 000 to Rs 70,00,000,” he said.
Despite the cost escalation, the locals said the land is in demand while mostly the city dwellers have appeared eager of buying the land.
“In fact, the high cost of the land is partly due to its demand for residential purposes. Many families from the city have shifted to this area recently besides the people who moved closer to the highway from the villages in the interiors,” Muhammad Shafi, a property dealer based in Magam, said.
In the recent years, many businessmen from the city have set up ventures such as hotels, restaurants, or showrooms along the road to benefit from the opportunity. Many local business-oriented families too have taken to tourism-associated businesses.
“Many people converted part of their houses into shops or restaurants, and they do witness rush of customers due to constant movement of tourists on the highway,” Muhammad Subhan Mir, a resident of Kunzar, said.
Javiad Ahmad, who owns a handicrafts showroom at Kunzer, said: “Gulmarg has the potential to pull thousands of tourists in winters as well as in summers; the highway has added to the rush. So, people like me are trying to utilize this opportunity.”