Planning to buy property in Ayodhya? Here is your legal guide!

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Ayodhya has become a focal point of discussions, particularly with the recent completion of the Ram Temple in the historic city of Uttar Pradesh. Since the Supreme Court granted permission for the temple's construction in 2019, Ayodhya has witnessed a significant surge in real estate activity. Investors and buyers alike are eagerly participating in the thriving property market. The city is undergoing substantial development to establish infrastructure befitting an internationally renowned pilgrimage destination. Notably, Ayodhya now boasts an operational international airport and two upgraded railway stations, further amplifying investor enthusiasm.

Ayodhya and the ongoing property boom

Mega hotel chains such as Marriott International and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and large developers like House of Abhinandan Lodha have already sensed the potential of the city and unveiled plans to develop projects here. In the meantime, it is go time for buyers looking at boarding the property boom bus in the nick of time. Little wonder then that property prices in Ayodhya have soared over 100% in the past year if private estimates are to be believed. The number of property deals has also seen a similar phenomenon between early 2023 and 2024—the number of monthly property deals has risen 50-60 from a meagre 20 to 30 deals in a month.

Ayodhya has left behind Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and other popular tourist destinations in terms of property queries, say property brokers.

Also Read: Explore key details about the Ayodhya Ram Mandir along with the latest photos.

Boom within the boom: Rise in property frauds

Side by side, the number of property-related frauds has also seen an unprecedented hike in the past year. Sample this.

Kawal Kishore Shukla, who resides in a village under the Harraiya tehsil in the neighbouring Basti district lost Rs 15 lakh of his savings in a land fraud case in Ayodhya. Shukla, whose village is located nearly 24 km from the Ayodhya Ram Temple, was conned by unscrupulous fraudsters posing to be property brokers who promised a plot to the working principal in a government school overlooking the Sarayu River.

“I did not do the due diligence and fell right in the middle of the trap expecting proximity to the sacred temple and big gains on investment. However, after I lost my hard-earned savings which led me to do some personal investigation, I found out that the state government had already banned registration of land near the temple. If I had this valuation piece of information earlier, I could have saved my money and would have been spared the heartburn,” says Shukla.

In May 2023, the Uttar Pradesh Land Revenue Department published a list of 8 survey villages that are situated along the Sarayu River and have been exploited by land sharks.

The advisory by the department came only after a multi-crore land fraud was unearthed.

Non-government organization Vyakti Vikas Kendra, run by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living, signed an agreement of Rs 9.5 crore with Ayodhya resident Abdul Kalam in February 2022 for a 5.3-hectare plot located in the Manjha Jamthara village. After the payment of stamp duty of over Rs 68 lakh to the state government, the deal was stalled after the local court of assistant revenue officer cancelled the mutation process in April 2023, stating the plot did not exist in entirety on the ground and was in the floodplains of the Saryu River.

The mega NGO was defrauded by an individual working in cahoots with revenue officials.

“The (entire) area presented in the purchase letter does not exist on the ground. The land falls in the floodplain area. Since no construction can be done in the area, no physical possession can be given in the floodplain area,” the assistant revenue officer said in his order.

These instances are grave and lead us to our next question, what options does a rookie buyer have if he wants to cash in on the prospects of the booming Ayodhya real estate without getting trapped in property frauds?

According to legal experts, investing in housing projects launched by the state government and reputed real estate developers would be a safer option.

“Land investing is typically more fraught with the possibility of fraud. No investor, big or small, is impervious to the con artistry of scamsters as had been made evident by the cases reported all over the world. A safer way to avoid being in a soup like this is to invest in RERA-registered projects of established developers,” says Prabhanshu Mishra, a Lucknow-based lawyer with specialisation in property law.

According to Mishra, the sheer potential of land as an investment growth tool is highly charming but it involves a greater degree of risk.  “The return on investment in the case of apartments is often not as steep. This is why most people are drawn to land,” adds Mishra.

According to Brajesh Mishra, a Gurgaon-based lawyer who hails from Pragyagraj in UP, awareness about local rules and regulations is another thing before you rush into signing a seemingly lucrative deal.

Also Read: Stamp duty in Ayodhya in 2024