NRI Property Investments and Urban/ Rural Transformations
Photographs and text: Prof. Carol Upadhya (ProGlo Programme Co-Director)
A major form of ‘reverse flows’ into Coastal Andhra is investments by NRIs in property, especially urban real estate but also agricultural lands. Many NRIs from this region – mainly high-skilled migrants such as doctors and engineers living in the US and other western countries – have saved up and bought land, house plots, or apartments in and around fast-growing regional towns such as Vijayawada and Guntur. Builders in Vijayawada estimate that NRIs have purchased at least half of the high-end flats there in recent years. Although few migrants intend to return to settle in their home towns, many invest in real estate to take advantage of the region’s ever-rising land values. These flows in turn have artificially driven up property prices. NRI investments have also contributed to rapid urbanisation, as developers buy land from farmers and convert it into residential layouts on the peripheries of towns. Thus, as provincial towns expand, their rural hinterlands too are going through major transformations – some of which are captured in this album.