Estate Srinagar (J&K)
Ringed by the mighty Himalyas, 2228 sq. kms of the Kashmir Valley encloses India's Jewel in the Crown, Srinagar. As the Jhelum tumbles down the valley slopes, it divides Srinagar into tehsils - Srinagar North on the right bank and Srinagar South, on the left bank. The city is hemmed in by districts Budgam on the north-west, Pulwama on the south east, Ganderbal in the north, and Bandipore in the west.
The special status accorded to the state of Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian Constitution under Article 370 empowers the State Legislature to identify its permanent residents.
Article 35A reserves the rights of ownership and sale of immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir to such residents or "state subjects". Furthermore, property transactions are limited by the Jammu and Kashmir Permanent Resident Status Bill of 2004 which restrains Kashmiri women from passing on the property to their inheritors if they choose to marry a non-Kashmiri.
Nonetheless, Srinagar's property market has thrived in spite of its isolated nature. Tourism has played a central role in determining property rates in Srinagar, though locals admit that the influx of funds from across the border has dictated property trends in the Valley.
Srinagar's real estate has witnessed brisk business in the last two years, with property values doubling up to Rs.70 lakhs per kanal (approximately 600 sq. yards.) presently. Lal Chowk is the nerve centre of Srinagar, with a 100 sq. ft of commercial space being let out for Rs.30,000 to Rs.40,000 per month. Along with Raj Bagh, Badshah Chowk and Polo View it plays host to tourists in a range of luxury to budget hotels, handicraft stores and commercial services.
Baghat Barzulla Chowk as a commercial district is proving to be stiff competition for Lal Chowk, with a 144 sq. ft of office space currently fetching Rs. 10 lakh. The rental per sq. ft in this neighborhood hovers around Rs.25 to Rs.28 as against Rs.8 a decade ago.
Stretching 3-4 kms further towards Budgam, rentals in Sanant Nagar are fast catching up with Baghat Burzulla where development has accelerated in the recent past.
Life in Srinagar revolves around the Lakes. Providing an alternative residential option are the 1000 or more houseboats on the Dal, Nagin and Anchar lakes, where they co-exist with illegal floating gardens which sustain the families residing on the floating homes. Owned by families for generations, the houseboats have been converted into hotels for tourists looking for an offbeat holiday experience.
As for regular residential properties in Srinagar, independent homes with the characteristic wooden lattice work stand apart. Villas and bungalows in Srinagar for Rs. 30 to Rs. 40 lakhs, with a total covered area of 3000 sq. ft. are available in exclusive residential colonies like Hyderpora, which fringes on Budgam. The HMT colony in Zainakot is another upcoming residential hub in Srinagar.
Prominent commercial properties in Srinagar include the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Complex on the Dal Lake, and the Royal Springs Golf Course by its side. A Software Technology Park has been approved in the Rangreth electronics complex, 6 kms away from Srinagar.
Development projects have helped urbanise areas surrounding Srinagar, especially Budgam. This has necessitated the inclusion of 13 villages of the district under the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, to form Greater Srinagar. However, unplanned construction in Srinagar and other tourist towns is disturbing the environmentalists, and remedial measures are yet to be enforced by the local authorities.
Infrastructure has improved Srinagar's links within and outside Kashmir. The airport in Budgam has been expanded and serves as an international terminus for flights to Jeddah and back, while the laying of the railway line in the Valley has improved accessibility within the region.
The J&K Government will be setting up 10 more industrial estates in the state, apart from the 7 existing industrial estates in Srinagar covering 2573.06 kanals. Handicrafts and tourism are the mainstay of the Kashmiris, and infrastructure like the Common Facility Centre, Craft Development Institute of Carpet Technology at Baghi Ali Marden Khan in interior Srinagar are expected to beef up employment with training and marketing facilities for artisans.