Former milkmen, they are real estate 'tycoons' today

Former milkmen, they are real estate 'tycoons' today

From a milkman to a property dealer, 70-year-old Ratnam Singh’s journey, which has been a mix of ups and downs, sheds light on the growth of south Delhi’s Mahipalpur village. 

Two decades ago, it was a locality on the Delhi-Gurgaon Highway crammed with milkmen’s families before the Indira Gandhi International Airport was set up in the late 1980s. Now, it has become a hub for people who work at the airport and for those who work in Gurgaon, but can't afford to live in the expensive Millennium City. As the area developed, the village also saw a massive transformation. 

In 1990, Ratnam had bought an acre of land in the village for Rs 10,000. “In those years, the village used to be barren land without proper roads. We earned our livelihood selling milk,” he told Deccan Herald.

Ratnam recalls that the scenario began to change with the inauguration of IGI Airport, as it provided employment to thousands of people. Without proper transportation facilities to the border areas of the capital, the village was seen as one of the options for temporary settlement near the airport.

“People began to visit our village for rooms and soon the demand was unexpectedly high. We were also satisfied with the demand as the rent was an added source of income,” Ratnam added. 

He along with a group of seniors in the village then started dealing in property and built several buildings on their land. In 1995, they used to demand Rs 800 for a two-room house, which has now increased to at least Rs 10,000.

Though almost every nook and corner of the village has been covered by buildings, they still remain as unauthorised constructions. Tenants complain that the owners of such buildings charge exorbitant rates for an apartment. 

“Not only the rent is high, but also the electricity charges hit the roof. For each unit, we have to shell out over Rs 8,” said Rajiv Kumar, a tenant.

Many of the villagers also chose to target airport travellers and set up hotels on the highway. Now, Mahipalpur is also considered to be a destination for low-cost hotels in the capital. 

Naresh Aggarwal, who works with Delhi 37 Hotel, says close proximity to the airport makes the hotels to be preferred by airport travellers. “All the hotels are profitable and we get customers the year round. The low-cost service also attracts wedding planners and businessmen,” he added.

Locals, however, say the area is yet to be well-connected by public transport with other parts of the capital and NCR. They claim to be dependent on taxi drivers, who take passengers for Rs 15-40 each. “We have limited connectivity by DTC buses and the Delhi Airport Metro Express station of Delhi Aerocity is also of no use due to the high ticket prices,” said Naman Jain, a Delhi University student.

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