Nagpur stakes claim to lead boomtown pack

If orange and saffron is all that comes to mind for Nagpur, it's time to take a fresh look at Maharashtra's second capital. Once relegated to second-grade status after ceasing to be the capital of the erstwhile CP and Berar Province, Nagpur is on the upswing.

What started with a controversial 1.5-km modern flyover in the busiest Sitabuldi area of the city some ten years ago, is now fast shaping up into a hurricane of development.

At the centre of it all is a Rs 3,000-crore Multimodal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) that will feed a Rs 10,000-crore Special Economic Zone. IT leaders like Satyam, L&T Infocity and Shapoorji Pallonji have already bought over 250 acres in MIHAN's proposed SEZ. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and General Electric teams too are visiting soon.

''Clearly, with its immense talent pool, Nagpur is the next infotech destination of India and more and more international companies will come here,'' says Induslogic CEO Peter Harrison. US-based Induslogic recently merged Lambent Technolgies, a Nagpur-based I-T company, into itself.

About 1,500 of the required 3,500 hectares have already been acquired for MIHAN. An international school is coming up soon, an ultramodern airport with a capacity to handle 10,000 people has been envisaged and a 100-MW captive power plant is set to come up. Banks have lined up funds, with over Rs 300 crore already being contributed to MIHAN's infrastructure kitty.

The real estate business has taken a huge leap. ''Outside the city precincts on Wardha Road, along which MIHAN is coming up, the price of land a year ago was Rs 30 lakh per acre. It has now doubled and you have no land to buy now even for Rs 60 lakh,'' says Balbir Singh Renu, president of Nag-Vidarbha Builders' Association. And, in tony city areas like Civil Lines, Ramdaspeth and Shankar Nagpur, the going rate is Rs 60 lakh for a 2,500-sq ft flat, at a whopping Rs 2,500 per sq ft.

... contd.

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