This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com
Gurgaon is the story of a new city. Land is its centrepiece, and also a source of controversy. Since 1981, seven Haryana governments have approved 1,003 licences for land plots in Gurgaon. The graphics below show how much each government has allotted or approved to which developer in the last 34 years. It shows that 55% of land allotments in Gurgaon were made in Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s nine-year tenure; that DLF Ltd received most of its allotments under Congress rule; that builders were actively acquiring land even after the 2008 credit crisis left them gasping for cash to finish projects; that every large developer has its pocket of presence.
From 1982 to 2005, five state governments gave 7,400 acres of land in Gurgaon (the first licence issued in 1981, for 161 acres, has been included in the calculation). In the next nine years, the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government gave another 9,400 acres, or 55% of all land given to builders in Gurgaon.
Note: The Haryana Vikas Party merged with the Congress in 2004.
BY TOP DEVELOPERS
In all, licences amounting to 16,795 acres have been given to 344 developers. Just three developers account for 38% of the area: DLF (20.5%), Ansals (9.2%) and Unitech (8.7%). They were the first entrants, but now they rub fences with many developers. The presence of other developers has increased principally during the tenure of Bhupinder Singh Hooda, even as the cash-strapped top three pulled back in their land purchases. Further, each of the top three has tried to build a pocket of presence: DLF in north-east and east Gurgaon, Ansals in north-west and Unitech in the centre.
The maximum allotment happened in 2008, the year in which the world economy was rocked by a credit crisis. In India, the real estate sector, where a bubble had been building, was the worst hit. Starved of cash and facing tame buyer interest, builders were saddled with unfinished projects. Yet, in Gurgaon, the state government kept issuing licences and builders kept buying: as much as 6,380 acres were given since 2008, or 38% of all land allotted in Gurgaon.