As you pass through a beautiful museum at an airport on the way to your flight, you would stop to admire the sculptures, the paintings, the wall art and murals that make for such compelling beauty and atmosphere. But a former Airports Authority head once stopped me midway in my appreciation of this wonder to burst the beauty bubble. When project costs are mapped closely, art is a great way to inflate costs. Who knows how to value art, he said succinctly. Then it is a matter of connecting dots to figure out what he really said. The cost of expensive infrastructure is paid by the users finally in different ways. One way is the “user development” fees, which ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand over the past years. The latest rates are here.
We know intuitively that we pay for corruption in many ways, but the cost of graft in anything linked to real estate has the potential to cost not just a few hundred rupees to those who have the capacity to afford a flight, but far more. The worst hit is the roof-over-the-head-seeking homeowner who gets priced out of the market or thrown to distant suburbs with poor amenities. The story of residential real estate can be summed up in three words: stuffed or starving. In the premium segment, there is an oversupply, and in the affordable housing segment, there is a demand overhang estimated to be about 10 million units in 2019 and a supply overhang of about 13 million units in the premium and luxury market. What people want they don’t build. What they build, people don’t want. The key to the story is the price.