The demise of Marathwada strongman Vilasrao Deshmukh has not only made a significant dent in Congress’ political fortunes and aspirations in the state, it has also resulted in some unforeseen afflictions. One of the victims, astonishingly, is the property market of Latur. According to real estate industry sources here, flat prices have plummeted more than 40% and plot rates are down by 50%.
The biggest reason, some developers say, is that after Deshmukh’s death Latur has lost its political stability in public perception. Atul Thombre, a builder and architect — who has been in the real estate field here for the last 25 years —, said, “For any area’s development, political stability is the key. However, after the former CM’s death the future of Latur has become very bleak. Prices here are really low now, and unless a charismatic and reliable political face emerges, things will remain on the slide.”
Another realtor from Latur added, “From Rs 3,000 per sq ft, in the last two months rates have come down to Rs 2,000 per sq ft. The worst hit are land deals — on the outskirts of the city an acre was being sold at Rs 80 lakh till recently. Now, prices have dipped to Rs 50 lakh per acre. We have already lost the commissioner’s office to Nanded, from where Ashok Chavan is on the rise again. We in Latur do not see any such hope on the horizon.”
Virendra Sawant, a hotelier from Latur, claims while most people here were expecting a rise in population and consumption because of the development planned, the ground realities have changed following Deshmukh’s death. “We were expecting a lot of progress in the coming days. In Deshmukh’s regime, the city had leapfrogged by 20 years within a mere five years. Hence, expectations had escalated, which had let to the rise in real estate prices. What’s happening now was inevitable,” said Sawant.
According to another hotelier, fewer visitors are coming to the city these days. Previously, Deshmukh stopping over in his hometown was reason enough for people to flock the area.
An added concern for Latur residents is that while Deshmukh was a union minister, there were widespread reports of BHEL developing a power plant in the district. According to Thombre, that project now has been put on the back burner. “There are rumours that they may be moving out from Latur, which have demoralised people here,” he told MiD DAY.