As the arterial highway connecting Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai to the southern regions of the state, the Grand Southern Trunk Road — or GST Road as it is popularly known, was a silent witness to zipping buses and trucks, carrying loads of people and goods for years.
While Standard Motors, located on the southern outskirts of the city, had long stopped rolling out automobiles, the Madras Export Processing Zone (MEPZ), tucked a few km into the city on the stretch, was less glamorous to attract attention.
In the mid-to-late 90s, when Ford and Visteon, along with a few auto component units set up base on the stretch, GST Road figured on the global automobile map, along with Sriperumbudur, which attracted the larger investment from Korean major Hyundai Motor. Today, there is a whole lot of new meaning for GST Road.
With four SEZs already approved and room for at least a couple more, it may soon turn out to be Chennai’s ‘SEZ Corridor’. Thanks to Infosys, which is setting up its largest development centre in Mahindra SEZ, GST Road now offers a fair mix of IT and manufacturing and has become a hub for property developers.
“GST Road offers unparalleled accessibility and the best transportation infrastructure in Chennai in terms of connectivity as it is connected by road, rail and air,” says Mr Ramesh Nair, local director, Jones Lang Lasalle Meghraj, which has bagged the marketing rights for the Shriram Gateway SEZ.
“GST Road is also in close proximity to thickly populated middle-income catchment zones like Tambaram, Chromepet and Pallavaram, besides Perungalathur, making it attractive to IT and BPO companies,” he added.
Besides MEPZ, which houses several export units and is also offering space for IT Parks to come up, and Mahindra Global City SEZ, construction work has begun on Shriram Gateway and L&T Arun Excello SEZs on the stretch. In addition, India Land, which is building a large IT Park at Ambattur, is planning a mixed-use SEZ on GST Road.
“Unlike OMR and Sriperumbudur stretches, GST Road is the only place that has established infrastructure already in place. With a slew of SEZ projects underway, the stretch is fast developing into a kind of SEZ Corridor because of the availability of large tracts of land,” said Mr Rajesh Babu of leading property consultants, RECS Group.
Sensing the emerging potential, leading property developers L&T Arun Excello launched ‘Estancia’, a large residential township, adjacent to their SEZ project. Akshaya Homes, which was an early bird on the OMR, has already moved into GST Road and launched a 520-unit residential township, Metropolis.
Hallmark Constructions too has just about launched its 2,000 unit residential project on the GST Road. “Besides established infrastructure, rail connectivity, which runs almost parallel to the road is the biggest advantage for GST Road. Several established educational institutions are well entrenched on the stretch,” industry sources said. “Unlike OMR, which is set to house just a couple of hotels, there are over half a dozen hotels already there or being planned,” they added.
Source: The Economic Times
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