The Day I Didn’t Reach Delhi – Dwarka Expressway Latest Updates (2016)

Much has been said about this impressively planned road of 18 kilometer that would become alternate connectivity to New Delhi from the millennial city of Gurgaon. South Delhi is a prime address however it is now congested and out of reach of many. While Gurgaon has seen haphazard development in many of its central business districts, again much of residences there are in the premium and luxury category. On the other hand National Highway 8 which is the most used route to Delhi has seen its own share of controversies for traffic jams and road mishaps. Thus several years back in preparation to the Commonwealth Games, Dwarka Expressway was planned and supposed to be operational by 2010. It is 2016 and there is no road, forget the road there is no basic infrastructure to support quality habitation. There is hope, there is hope which has never been this well appreciated for years. We have written about the developments along the Dwarka Expressway time and again, but everytime we wrote we were criticized. Before I start my commentary this time around I wish to make it clear we love infrastructure development, because it helps fostering urban development in a balanced way. We aren’t critical of the real estate industry as much as we are of the authorities who own the responsibility of providing infrastructure.

The lain patch of Dwarka Expressway
The lain patch of Dwarka Expressway
The swamp on Delhi side of Dwarka Expressway
The swamp on Delhi side of Dwarka Expressway

For those who haven’t followed this geography of Gurgaon the Dwarka Expressway will connect National Highway ahead of Kherki Daula toll to Dwarka in Delhi and merge into the highway again, near the Indira Gandhi International Airport of Delhi. Along the road aspirational projects such as Metro line, several sector roads and housing was planned. When fully developed this entire stretch will be a more planned and phased development than rest of Gurgaon. But the prime question is “When”. More than 100 projects (mainly Group Housing) are expected to deliver anywhere from 50,000-60,000 homes along the sectors on this road. Thanks to Dwarka Expressway the number of sectors at Gurgaon is comfortably above 100, though reaching them even on Google maps might be a tiresome exercise. Several large institutional developers such as Sobha, TATA Housing, Mahindra Lifespaces, Godrej, Adani among others are present here. While the regional players include Puri, ATS, Bestech, Experion and many more.

The burning issues that surround the road development are as follows: (many being resolved now)

1.Land acquisition on the Delhi end of the road and at several patches in between
2.Delayed construction of the road and essential services
3.Sectors and other DP roads not in place
4.Real estate projects suffering severe delays (largely, some projects have been on time)
5.Poor current access from Delhi or from Gurgaon
6.The developer body blames the state Government to have inappropriately used the statutory charges collected to build the road at Gurgaon for other uses

And this list can go on, with several developers having completely shelved the projects leaving buyers in a limbo. So much so that recently the state’s Chief Minister – Mr. Khattar held a meeting with Real Estate Developers at Gurgaon to take stock of the situation.

Dwarka Expressway Status

Signage towards Delhi on Dwarka Expressway
Signage towards Delhi on Dwarka Expressway
Signange towards Gurgaon
Signange towards Gurgaon

While connivance of certain real estate firms isn’t ruled out but much of the apathy that buyers of real estate suffer is because of the delay in execution of this 18 kilometer, 150 meter wide road. Several young and old buyers or investors bought a piece of real estate here assuming the market was offering value in respect to other part of the cities of Gurgaon and New Delhi. However they continue to suffer as the prices in the area soared till about 2012/13 when these houses and apartments here were trending probably much higher to their intrinsic values. There has been no movement in prices since then in fact many people are probably witnessing losses in their real estate investments in a short span of time. Real estate markets across the country are sluggish, but a visit to Gurgaon will suggest to you that the market here is nearly stalled. However, this also gives rooms to several real estate developers with better balance sheets and prudent teams to rise at this moment and acquire projects in distress to expand their footprint. This is being witnessed in patches here. Also certain institutions such as Sobha Ltd., Mahindra and TATA have kept a good pace with their developments  and delivering housing units as per agreements. Another property though not right on the Dwarka Expressway, Bestech Parkview Ananda was delivered as per the timelines, and developer’s Parkview Grand Spa too is coming up for delivery this year. (we may have missed out mentioning other developers but this is as per the limited data gathered during the recent recce). Other projects which are at advanced stages are Puri Diplomatic Greens, Experion Windchants and certain properties of Orris and Godrej. But the big question even today is if the property were to be delivered today how does one move in for a comfortable life till other issues are sorted out?

The village where land acquisition issues prevail, Dwarka Expressway
The village where land acquisition issues prevail
Sobha International City from the back road, functional connectivity to Delhi
Sobha International City from the back road, functional connectivity to Delhi

In my earlier notes I have mentioned that to me Dwarka Expressway’s 18 kilometers is primarily divided into 4 sections; Delhi to Gurgaon Sector 111 (near Bajghera Road), Sector 111 to Sector 109, Sector 109 to Sector 99, Sector 88 to National Highway 8. Three of the above are in Gurgaon. While I see heightened activity on the Railway Over Bridge between Sector 99 and Sector 88 at Gurgaon and several other development plan roads, the land issues are being sorted out at Delhi end and between Sector 111 to Sector 109 and near the highway. With Dwarka Expressway getting notified as a National Highway recently (Minister Nitin Gadkari making the announcement) it looks like the road will get operational by the next year. Gradually we see development of allied infrastructure as well. Certain developers have launched or are launching serviced apartments, retail and office spaces too, there is severe dearth of these right now. However, the murmurs that one hears (not validated) that several sector road development may take time which is longer than expected. Another developer, Satya recently started giving handover of its project Satya Hermitage at Sector 103.

Recent launches at Dwarka Expressway

TATA Housing’s recent launch La Vida at Sector 113 has raised several eye brows in Gurgaon real estate fraternity. One because it feels that someone has to be really courageous to announce a new launch at Gurgaon and second it is probably the first time in TATA’s history that a project is being launched with an easy finance scheme (possession linked plan). The plans of La Vida suggest that the developer has adjusted for market reality and planned smaller units, primarily 2BHK, 2.5BHK and 3BHK. On the other hand Sobha has launched its first apartment project in North India by the name Sobha City at Sector 108. The project by Sobha screams of luxury living by the park.

TATA La Vida and Gurgaon Gateway in background
TATA La Vida and Gurgaon Gateway in background

Apart from these launches we have been seeing heightened activity of construction and frenzy of offers by developers trying to clear the inventory. Other development that entire real estate industry is rising up to is the introduction of RERA Act (Real Estate Regulation and Development Act, 2016). Developers need to deliver the homes before introduction of the Act for these properties to not fall under the compliance window of the Act, this is a tough ask for many projects here. Because upon introduction of RERA Act developers whose projects are delayed or are in violation of the contract, will face the heat of regulation immediately.

Lastly, coming to my inspiration behind writing an update on the Dwarka Expressway yet again. Since I was at the TATA La Vida property I decided to drive along the semi-finished road next to the Sector 111 at Gurgaon. Now this road will eventually link to Delhi…Eventually! One can easily fly a small plane as the road offers a great surface to drive (like a runway). But it ends abruptly ahead of a swamp with a signboard reading – DELHI AHEAD. Thereby I had to turn back and couldn’t reach Delhi that day.

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