The sense of insecurity among Muslims in Gujarat has manifested itself even in realty rates in Surat, with property prices in Muslim-dominated areas being much higher than in other similar localities of the city.
Sources in the city's realty sector say that even the rents of residential property in Muslim areas are higher than elsewhere in Surat. And newly developed minority localities are far more costly than old minority areas.
The sources said that property in Muslim-dominated areas like Shahpore, Zampha-bazaar, Rani Talao, (Kopchiwad) Salabatpura, Mughlisara and Rander are beyond the reach of middle-class Muslim families.
Officially, the rate in these areas is between Rs1,800 and Rs2,500 per sq ft but buyers usually have to pay between Rs3,000-4,000 per sq ft. Moreover, even to buy at these rates, customers have to pay more than 45% (in some cases 60%) of the total price in cash.
Now, the rent of a 1-BHK flat in these areas can be anywhere between Rs3,500 and Rs5,000. The price of old one-floor houses with 12 x 30 sq ft of land is Rs25 lakh per house.
In contrast, similar property in non-Muslim areas would be in the range of Rs15 lakh- Rs20 lakh while the rent for a 1-BHK flat is less than Rs2,500. Even in posh areas such as City Light, LP Sawani, Honey-Park Road, and Bhatar Road (the non-Muslim areas), the rate is around Rs2,500-3,000 per sq ft.
"Some builders purchase two adjoining old houses in these areas and then build an apartment building there," said Rashid Pathan, a real estate broker in Surat. "As members of the minority community prefer to live in areas which they know well, they are willing to pay the high prices demanded by the developers. Many developers reduce the size of the flat for greater profit but the customers seldom complain."
Pathan added that prices in newly-developed Muslim areas are much higher than in old minority dominated localities. For example, a 1-BHK flat at Rander-Gorat road with all the necessary facilities can cost between Rs25 lakh and Rs35 lakh, he said.
Again, the rent of a similar flat can be anywhere from Rs9,000 to Rs13,000. Recently, work on a row-house project (Alvi Row Houses) has started in the locality and the cost of each row-house is Rs80 lakh, he added.
"The reason is simple," said Kartik Patel, a city-based developer. "Muslims won't shift to non-Muslim areas due to a sense of insecurity, and because of cultural and religious issues.
Moreover, they prefer to live in close-knit communities rather than independently in luxury apartments in other areas."
The high property prices in minority-dominated areas have forced middle-class Muslim families to look for houses in less developed areas such as Limbayat, Dumbhal, Umarwada, Anjana and Unn. Many spots in these localities lack even basic facilities such as water & drainage, and roads. Yet, people are still buying properties here.
"My monthly income is Rs20,000, but I cannot even think of buying property in one of the better Muslim localities of the city,” said Akram Memon, a resident of Sahil Nagar in Unn. “I purchased this house (11 x 25 sq ft) for Rs7 lakh, just 18 months back. People are now ready to pay Rs12 lakh for the same house.”