Real estate on water

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Concrete drama
Actsaid the court. The government did not. The realtors are at the deep end now

since April 182001new construction activity in Ahmedabad has virtually come to a standstill. The realtors of the commercial capital of Gujaratone of the two most industrialised states of Indiaare desperate. Builder after builder talks about diversifying into other sectors to avoid bankruptcy. More than 700 applications for new buildings are pending with the authorities and no new construction is happening in an estimated 70 per cent of the city's land. The overall loss of business in real estate could be up to Rs 6500croreestimates the president of Federation of Real Estate Developers Associations of Gujarat. And this does not include the 250-odd ancillary industries that depend on real estate developmenthe says.

Why? Because the Gujarat High Court acted in response to a public interest petition filed in October 2000 to protect lakes and increase water availability in the city (see box: Courtspeak: The script). After waiting for almost six months for the authorities to respondthe court restricted new constructions in a radius of 500-10metres around 137 pieces of land that the additional resident deputy collector had listed as lakes in his affidavit dated November 202000It also directed the authorities to ensure that "lakes are used as lakes'. At least 65 of these