In order to consolidate and accommodate this mass migration, the Government of India has undertaken several initiatives which have given a way to the mega projects, nucleated around the development of industrial clusters, connectivity and increasing India's exports.
Urbanisation has become an inexorable part of the economic development. The human productivity and associated wages from industry services have often concentrated settlements on urban agglomerates. For many cities, increased population- largely due to migration- has compelled them to redraw its urban boundaries, often carving into adjacent townships or villages, leaving urban planners at the mercy for intricate infrastructure expansions. In the last two decades, India has witnessed rapid urbanisation and now there are 60 cities with more than a million population. The colonisation of large migrated workforce around the industrial settlements in cities has led to enormous deficiencies in the urban structure, leading to an unsustainable development and economic inequalities.
In order to consolidate and accommodate this mass migration, the Government of India has undertaken several initiatives which have given a way to the mega projects, nucleated around the development of industrial clusters, connectivity and increasing India's exports. Some of the key mega projects include the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), the eight greenfield industrial townships along with the DFC being built by the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Corporation (DMIC) and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail. Many naysayers criticise mega projects as being unaffordable and unnecessary. However, history has proven that a mega project which increases connectivity, mobility and creates infrastructure will almost always benefit the area and the nation in the long-run.
of mega projects, which have transformed cities and economies include the water aqueducts built from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Colorado to Los Angeles, and the elaborate freeway system built during the great depression of 1920s all across the US.
While the water aqueducts transformed an arid area into a major metropolis of Los Angeles, a vibrant economy which now exceeds the GDP of many nations, the freeways are an example of a transportation mega project which increased connectivity and mobility to make the US a seamless economy. In India, mega connectivity projects like Bharatmala will boost the economic development.
Infrastructural efforts towards colossal neoclassical structures like the Statue of Liberty or the Sydney Opera House may have not justified the cause at their time but have become iconic structures, bringing people together from around the world and contributing to the economy in one way or the other. Similarly, an iconic statue, 250 m tall, of freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhai Patel is being built, facing the Narmada dam. The monument made of 75,000 cubic m concrete and 5,700 metric tonne of steel with a price tag of Rs 30 billion will be the world's tallest statue, bringing tourists from around the world and contributing to the nation's economy.
To spur the economic growth and improve the livelihoods, countries often build new industries and infrastructure or in some cases, entirely new cities. Master-planned cities have been sprouting up as a way for countries to jolt their economies and attract greater foreign investment. The trend holds a great potential for how urban areas can be planned and designed more efficiently.
The greenfield development must undertake integrated city planning. Physical, utilities, social, environment, operational and latest being the digital planning are examples of the planning processes which must be integrated. Though each of these planning efforts can stand alone, their integration in the early phases of the project is most beneficial for the development of a sustainable, smart and efficient city.
Physical planning defines the extent of the city along with the development provisions in the form of land use distribution and land use mix. Environment planning takes care of the health and wellbeing of its residents, workers and natural environment through open green spaces, conservation and preservation. Social planning helps support existing development and villages to grow, and ensures provision of essential amenities for city users in the form of health, education, community and other basics. Utilities planning ensures 24x7 availability of basic services like water and waste water, power, gas, ICT, storm water, etc. Operational planning emphasises on transparency and governance mechanisms.
Positive impact of greenfield cities
Cities accommodate nearly 31 per cent of India's current population and contributes 63 per cent of the GDP (Census 2011). Urban areas are expected to house 40 per cent of India's population and contribute 75 per cent of India's GDP by 2030.
The above graph shows the growth and potential for an orderly planned, typical greenfield city in India. Using Dholera as an example, a unit of investment results into a multiplier of 200 per year to GDP. In addition to the output, it also generates millions of job, plus a planned development provides a quality of life to millions of residents and city users. Currently, the increase in investment, tourism, employment and expansion of industries or corporates has resulted in higher GDP contribution from the smart cities.
Adoption of smarter initiatives in sectors such as transportation, energy, water, security, etc. will also help in the reduction of capital and operational cost. Providing superior quality
The quality of life is determined by various parameters as physical and mental health, level of independence, social relationship, political and social safety, healthy and clean environment, economic and financial stability, schools and education, spirituality, religion and personal beliefs, public services and transportation, opportunity for work-live-play, etc.
The greenfield smart cities are having a potential to maximise the socio-economic potential through better planning and design. Its aim should be to provide enhanced liveability, newer employment and investment opportunities, minimise the use of natural resources and maximise the use of smart technology. Smart cities enable the efficient use of natural, human and economic resources and promotes cost saving. It is not only about investing money into new infrastructure but it is about making that infrastructure do more, behave intelligently and last longer. A well-planned city with ICT enabled infrastructure, xero waste, 100 per cent recycling and reuse along with renewable energy generation and desalination, makes the city self-dependent and sustainable in all aspects.
Dholera is planned to be a state-of-the-art city and a game changer in India's tryst for rapid industrialisation, along the industrial corridors. It's been a long and exciting journey to build Dholera from ground-up, encouraged by the fact that mega projects will transform the socio-economic fabric of the nation. Many lessons were learned along the way in the ways of creative engineering and design in a low lying flat terrain and implementing the world's best programme management tools and processes to collaborate and manage several consultants and contractors simultaneously. The mega city building and connectivity projects around Dholera are sure to transform the entire region and corridor between Ahmedabad to Dholera into a major, vibrant metropolis. Dholera will, indeed, be the role model for all the future cities in India. During the process, from the inception to the implementation of the Dholera project, several lessons were learned with respect to the development of greenfield cities. Creating a detailed infrastructure plan along with the development plan is essential, especially when the greenfield city is being developed under the Town Planning Scheme (TPS). The development plan is a sanctioned and approved document and once adopted, it cannot be changed without proper procedures which are time consuming. If the infrastructure is not preliminarily designed as a part of the development plan, it becomes a force fit at the later stage and may result in costly solutions or longer implementation timelines.
There are no shortcuts in planning. Building a city from ground-up, requires extensive planning in the areas of utilities, social, physical, operational, environmental, digital and urban. All these plans have to be seamlessly integrated and it takes time and coordination with a multitude of stakeholders.
It is essential that all the approvals, clearances and permissions are identified and set in motion during the early stages for a smooth implementation.
The construction schedule must be realistic. Greenfield city building takes anywhere from 8-12 years, from its inception to the completion of the trunk infrastructure. The timeline depends on the extent planning and approvals, approvals and permits, construction sequencing and the availability of cash flow. If planning takes longer than the expected time, it sometimes becomes a tendency to crash the schedule at the tail end, leaving less time for construction. If the construction time is squeezed, the quality may suffer, the team coordination and moral may falter and eventually, the project will suffer.
Marketing a greenfield city may sometimes be more difficult than building it. In order to build the world's largest greenfield city at 920 sq km, required Dholera to be located relatively far away (110 km) from the nearest urban centre, i.e., Ahmedabad. Further, being a TPS, the land had to be less productive and the promise for a bright future with this greenfield city has to be very high so that the local farmers approve the TP Scheme. However, the more remote we build a greenfield city on, the more difficult it is to convince the investors and people of its viability and affordability. Connectivity projects become more important which adds a layer of complexity, cost and coordination. Finally, a good economic or business model, which will recover the initial investment in trunk infrastructure, can be difficult if the land prices have to be discounted to attract early inventors and occupants in the city.
Challenges The major challenges in greenfield cities are project and implementation funding, multiple stakeholder management and the availability of skilled and non-skilled labour, which impacts the project's progress and timeline.
Authored by Jai Prakash Shivahare, Managing Director, Dholera Industrial City Development .