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With the establishment of Rajiv Ghandi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP), Chandigarh has not only come up on the national map but also on the international one. Within a single year Infosys, Virsa, Net-Solutions, Taurusagile, and IBM are a few international IT companies which have established their units here.

Rajiv Ghandi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP) is a major step in bridging the gap between high levels of educational facilities in Chandigarh but not sufficient employment opportunities especially in the knowledge sector.

The Phase I of RGCTP has already been accorded Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status by Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. The UT administration has also approved the Rs.12 crore Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) to be constructed over an area of about 1.5 acres at Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park (RGCTP), Phase-I.

Seeing the huge demand for both commercial and residential land by the IT companies set up in the RGCTP, 250 acres of land has been developed under Phase II. Out of this 123 acres have been reserved for a Tech Habitat under Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in order to provide residential facilities to professionals working there. The remaining land has been developed for the use of IT companies such as Wipro, Tech Mahindra, eSys Technologies Ltd., and Bharti Airtel Ltd.

With huge demand pouring in from various sectors across the world, another 270 acres of land has been planned for development under the Phase III of the RGCTP. This land is under acquisition, which is likely to be completed by January 2007 after which further allotments will be undertaken as per the policy.

Keeping in view the huge demand for the residential property and the appreciation in the prices in the last one year, big national developers and colonisers like Westend, TDI, Ansals, MGF, Omaxe have penetrated into the tri-city. In commercial segment DLF has developed state of the art commercial building for the companies to set up operations in the technology park.

Chandigarh along with Ahmedabad, Indore, Kolkata and Nagpur comes under the Tier III cities category in India which is expected to emerge as major centres for the offshoring activities by IT companies over the next five years.

Following RGCTP, there is another Hardware Park being planned to set up in Industrial Area Phase III in Chandigarh near Moli Jagraon close to the railway station. Though it may take several years to come into its real shape, it will surely boost the industrial development in Chandigarh.

The question is what has necessitated this shift to smaller townships? The reason for this shift towards tier II and tier III cities is inevitable owing to the increasing demand for workforce and an acute shortage of manpower projected in the coming years. Secondly, with cost advantage being the crucial factor in the outsourcing, tier II and tier III cities provide the straight away edge over tier I cities which include Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.

Talking about Chandigarh, the advantageous location of this place being the centre to states like Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh makes it a much convenient, accessible and preferred destination for both the employers and the employees. Also the excellent quality of life with a huge base of human resources and infrastructure coupled with the proactive policies of the administration play a very favourable role for such investments.

There is a reasonably good quality of talent pool available in Chandigarh. Due to availability of good number and quality of schools, colleges and the Panjab University, the city attracts young crowd from the surrounding states. Though there are some shortcomings like communications skills specifically in the Voice-based processes and areas where these skills are important but this will not be a hindrance in any way.

The government has taken initiatives on its part. As it has provided several benefits and concessions to the companies who have set up their unit in the RGCTP like the tax rebates which may be availed upto 10-15 years. Or facilities like 100 % electricity back –up.

On the other hand, the negative impacts of a technology park cannot be ignored. The fact that the property rates have appreciated manifolds due to setting up of the technology park is inevitable. Due to sky-rocketed property rates, the common man has been badly hit. As now his pocket does not allow him to buy any property, then let it be a flat or a residential land in and around the technology park. Today a 250 square yard plot costs around 60-80 lakhs which used to cost around Rs. 20 lakh 2 years back.

One of the main reasons of property rates appreciation has been due to the speculation of the market by the property dealers and the investors. All this has resulted into too much manipulation of the real estate prices.

The fact that Chandigarh will emerge as a huge IT hub in the coming years is undebatable. But the question still remains unanswered that will it be able to sustain this development or history will repeat itself as the case happened in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Property values in Chandigarh and Mohali are expected to rise with internationalization of its airport. According to property brokers, there is a noticeable surge in inquiries for properties around airport in the past three months.

Residential areas like Ram Darbar Colony, Sector 31 and Sector 47 are among the most benefited, Amit Chugh, a property broker informed. He said that an international airport will enable Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to land on Chandigarh smoothly and therefore we can expect rise in NRI investment.

At present, monthly rentals for apartments in Sector 31 and Sector 47 are from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 and the capital values for residential plots Rs 1,800-Rs 2,500 per sq. ft. Brokers project a rise of 10 per cent in the capital value in the near term. “Much depends upon the way this project progresses in the future. If everything goes well, like the process of land acquisition and development, property values in adjoining areas of airport will rise substantially,” said a property consultant.

The airport boost

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has planned to bring Chandigarh airport to international standards. It was only on January 05, civil aviation minister Praful Patel laid the foundation of international civil air terminal complex at Mohali. The new airport building will be able to cater to 700 passengers.

The modernization project would also involve construction of apron for remote parking of eight wide-bodied jet aircrafts. According to sources, the State Government of Punjab has been requested to give about 300 acres of land, identified on the other side of runway with independent access from the city side.

A Joint Venture company between AAI and Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) will be handed over the task of maintaining the new airport. The company will also be responsible for the city side development near airport.