The 21.8-km-long Mumbai Trans Harbour Link was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi January 12. The sea link aims to cut the distance between Mumbai and the satellite city of Navi Mumbai from a few hours to 15-20 minutes. It is also expected to cut travel time to major areas like Pune, and further to Goa. It may also boost economic development in the region, which houses a mega port and an upcoming Navi Mumbai international airport.
The question that remains to be answered is whether this will transform the fortunes of Navi Mumbai’s real estate market and lead to increase in property prices as is the case with most new infrastructure projects. It should be noted here that Line 1 of the Navi Mumbai Metro, between Belapur and Pendhar, that started operations in November last year, has helped improve real estate prices in markets such as Kharghar, Belapur and Taloja along the 11 km route.
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While some real estate experts are of the view that new infrastructure projects in Navi Mumbai are expected to lead to prices increasing by 10-15% in the next 2-3 years, others are of the view that with more land becoming available along the MTHL corridor, prices will be kept under check. Improved connectivity may also lead to increase in demand for luxury projects in Alibaug.
Areas that are likely to be impacted
MTHL begins in Sewri, South Mumbai and crosses the Thane Creek north of Elephanta Island and terminates at Chirle village, near Nhava Sheva in Navi Mumbai. The MTHL seeks to cut short travel time from a 2-hour journey from south Mumbai to Ulwe to a mere 20 minutes. Other areas that are expected to benefit from the direct linkage are Panvel, Ulwe and Dronagiri.
According to international real estate consultancy Colliers, the infrastructure development will escalate the accessibility across MMR, creating affordable opportunities in several emerging residential hubs. This is expected to lead to the emergence of new residential hubs around the peripheral nodes of Navi Mumbai such as Kharghar, Ulwe and Panvel.
Panvel: It should be noted that the under-construction Navi Mumbai International Airport is 20 minutes away from Panvel and the MTHL project is just about 15 to 20 minutes away. This is primarily an affordable housing market. A two to three-bedroom apartment in Panvel can cost anything between ₹8,000 per sq ft to ₹15,000 per sq ft, say local brokers.
Ulwe is in Navi Mumbai. A 2 BHK here may cost as much as a crore. Prices were in the range of ₹25 to ₹30 lakh almost eight years back, they say.
Dronagiri currently commands prices in the range of ₹5,500 to 6,000 per sq. ft.
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There is also talk of a ‘Third Mumbai’ expected to come up at the Ulwe end of sea link. This will be developed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA). Part of its mandate is to create a second business hub like the Bandra-Kurla Complex on a 150-hectare plot at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai. Towns in Raigad district such as Ulwe, Pen, Panvel, Uran, Karjat and Alibaug are all expected to be part of the proposed Third Mumbai.
According to data provided by Anarock, Ulwe and Panvel are and will be the key beneficiaries of the MTHL project in Navi Mumbai. Not just this, the two areas are seeing and will continue to see the dual positive effect of both the MTHL and the international airport project simultaneously. Other areas that have benefitted include Seawood and Kharghar.
As per ANAROCK Research, the average. property prices in Navi Mumbai stood more than ₹8,300 per sq. ft. as on Q3 2023. Back in Q3 2015, the average. property prices were ₹6,650 per sq. ft., thereby increasing by over 25% in the period. With various infra projects in the pipeline which will boost connectivity with mainland Mumbai and other areas in MMR, the city is poised to see average prices go up anywhere between 10-15% over the next 2-3 years.
Will real estate prices appreciate?
Gulam Zia, Senior Executive Director at Knight Frank India, has a different take.
“Most of the real estate in these areas has already developed and evolved. The juice in terms of prices has already been extracted. If prices in Ulwe started at ₹2000 per sq ft almost a decade back, they touched ₹5000 per sq ft much before the connector became operational,” he explained.
Going forward too, “ we expect a regular price increase of 7 to 10 percent across areas that come under this corridor ,” he said.
May keep real estate prices under check
A few months back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the 17-km priority section of the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) train or RAPIDX, the country’s first mass rapid system dedicated to regional connectivity. This was between Sahibabad and Duhai Depot stations. The entire connector (82.15 km) between Delhi and Meerut is expected to reduce travel time between the two cities to a little less than an hour.
There are a total of eight RRTS corridors that have been planned for the entire NCR of which three corridors have been prioritised to be implemented in Phase-I including Delhi – Ghaziabad – Meerut Corridor; Delhi – Gurugram – SNB – Alwar Corridor; and Delhi – Panipat Corridor. The other corridors which are also part of the long-term plan include the Delhi – Faridabad – Ballabgarh – Palwal Corridor; Ghaziabad – Khurja Corridor; Delhi – Bahadurgarh – Rohtak Corridor; Ghaziabad-Hapur Corridor; and Delhi-Shahadra-Baraut Corridor.
Once operational, these corridors are expected to bring these regions closer to Delhi and also open up huge real estate opportunities. “The land mass available to NCR is expected to multiply. Access to increased land parcels is expected to lead to rationalization in real estate prices,” explained Zia.
Similarly, in case of MTHL, thousands of acres of land that will now be opened up following development of new infrastructure, is expected to keep real estate prices under check and provide for opportunities in affordable housing, he said, adding the immediate impact will be rationalization rather than price appreciation.
A high-profile location in Navi Mumbai known as Palm Beach Road even after 50 years does not compare with real estate prices in Versova or Lokhandwala, he adds.
MTHL may lead to increased interest in luxury projects in Alibaug
It should be noted that the one-way toll for MTHL is expected to be ₹250, and not all can afford this. This means that a monthly pass may cost close to ₹12000 and more than a lakh for the entire year.
“This means that it may attract the upper crust of society who may use the connector to travel to their second homes in Alibaug,” said Zia.
The sea link is expected to cut down on travel time between South and Central Mumbai to Alibaug to just about an hour. “It is because of this reason that buyers are lapping up even apartments in Alibaug,” he said, adding the concept of living in Alibaug and working in Mumbai may soon become a reality.
Agrees Sachin Chopda, Managing Director of Pushpam Group. “There has been a surge in demand due to the MTHL and other ongoing infra projects in the MMR. The second-home markets near Mumbai such as Alibaug and Karjat may become first-home destinations in the next 7 to 10 years due to the impact that these infra projects will create.”
Commercial real estate potential
The enhanced connectivity provided by MTHL is expected to revitalize real estate activity in the old CBD area of South Mumbai, leading to opportunities for retrofitting for investors and developers. It is also expected to be pivotal in connecting the data centre hotspots within Navi Mumbai to the rest of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, said Vimal Nadar, Senior Director, Research, Colliers India.
“All in all, the real estate landscape in and around the project stands to benefit immensely,” he added.