MUSSOORIE: “I would kill to have one.” “This is my dream after I retire at 40.” “Who wouldn’t want it?” These are some of the common expressions that one hears from people who are in love with the mountains and want to own a house in the hills. Even though the notion is a romantic one, the ground reality is that getting a home in the hills is not as easy as it may seem. Especially if it is a destination like Mussoorie which is easily accessible from Delhi or the idyllic suburb Landour which has of late seen a surge of interest in those wishing to buy property but where properties are simply not available any more. “I have been trying for the past decade or so to get a dream home in Landour, but there are simply no houses available,” says Rajeev Negi, a prospective property hunter.
According to rules, says Atul Gupta, assistant engineer, MDDA (Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority), those from outside the state “can only buy 100 square meters of land for personal use.” Also, this land can’t be bought in the freeze zone — the area where construction is prohibited (the freeze zone rule is however under the scanner currently in Mussoorie). “Many people prefer buying an old bungalow. But the new construction needs to be done in the same plinth area as the old one,” adds Gupta.
Those in the know say that even if one does get lucky and procure land in the no-freeze zone or an old bungalow, getting a map passed is another battle. “In order to get a map sanctioned from relevant authorities, the entire process easily takes as long as five to six months. One needs clearance from water works, forest, PWD etc. And if the property is on the main road area, then the highways department is also in the picture,” says Baldev Ahuja of design consultancy A B Design Associates.
What is interesting is that despite all the problems, people from Delhi and Mumbai are still queueing up to buy properties in the hills. “I haven’t seen property prices here drop in the past few years. I guess people who have a large amount of spare cash don’t mind investing in a cottage that they can easily get for Rs 1.5-2 crore,” says Sanjay Agarwal, a local.
Incidentally, most prospective buyers are looking at the hills either for a second home or as an investment with only a limited few planning to shift bag and baggage. But to cater to the ‘home in the hills’ notion, many builders have also jumped into the bandwagon as is evident from the way some villages near Mussoorie are changing or the myriad construction activities happening on the Dehradun-Mussoorie road. Author and long-time Landour resident Ganesh Saili may have got it pat when he observed in his book ‘Tales of Yesteryears: Mussoorie Medley’ a few years ago: “In the beginning of the present slumification, the land developers trickled in peddling their dreams of ‘flats‘ in the hills and in their wake came the builders. Together they were to change the face and nature of the hill station.”
Credits ET Realty