Home » Urban Growth Corridors

Urban Growth Corridors

Urban Growth Corridors

For India’s rapid urban growth, we need to fast track growth corridors in the peri-urban areas and support them with futuristic mass transportation, says Ram Walase, MD & CEO, IL&FS.

India is one of the fastest growing and most populated economies in the world. By 2030, the urban areas would contribute 75 per cent of India’s GDP and house 590 million people, about 40 per cent of the population. This requires comprehensive and faster development of urban infrastructure. While many of our infrastructure projects eventually come to life, they take a long time to develop, thus rendering our cities perpetually wanting.

Amongst many elements of our urbanisation, intra-city mobility is the most critical one. It predominantly sets the pace of growth and tone of urban life. Our public transportation is minimal, inefficient and overcro-wded. Our motorisation is growing faster than the growth of our road capacity. With the exception of a few cities, a well-networked Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) is a distant dream. These deficiencies are causing increased congestion, pollution and safety issues.

In general, our urban transportation projects are planned and scheduled for yesterday’s demand and therefore the city centres and mid-towns get a priority in initial phases and the peri-urban areas and suburbs get the æPhase-3′ treatment. The time lag in provision of infrastructure creates a vicious cycle: poor urban infrastructure – poor urban quality of life – encroach-ments on public land – reduced pace of infrastructure development, further compounding the urban issues. This vicious cycle needs to be arrested by accelerating transport and connectivity projects in alternative, future growth corridors and in peri-urban areas. This is not to undermine the importance of existing CBDs, but to release pressure of influx on them. For instance, the proposed MRTS link between Karjat and Uran in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region could be impleme-nted relatively faster than the link between Ghatkopar and Versova. Such new transport corridors can create additional nuclei for growth and take pressure off the mid-towns.

This emphasis on urban mobility is even more important in the context of India’s rapidly growing services sector, contributing around 57 per cent of GDP. In the recent past, these industries have preferred to create economies of scale by co-locating themselves in greenfield clusters in peri-urban areas to take advantage of the cost arbitrage. These clusters such as Whitefield in Bengaluru, Hinjewadi in Pune, Cyberabad in Hyderabad and Gurugram in NCR create concentrated transportation demand.

For instance, Bandra-Kurla Complex, which was planned in 1979, has an employment potential of about 135 per acre. Another project, GIFT City, co-developed by the Government of Gujarat and IL&FS and planned in 2009 on a similar scale but with the next generation urban infrastructure and four Metro stations within it, can accommodate 565 jobs per acre.

In summary, we need to fast track the development of growth corridors in the peri-urban areas and support them with futuristic mass transportation. Implementation of the typical Phase-3 urban mobility projects in such areas needs to be accelerated so that they act as pressure-release valves for our cities.

Lastly, it would be a utopian dream to imagine that everything we need to eliminate our past deficits and meet our future demands would be built overnight. Nevertheless, in this era of prolonged global slow-down, we are the bright spot in the world full of underutilised factories and stockpiles of commodities. This is that opportune moment for India to develop its infrastructure at an unprecedented pace. And for that to happen, our credit cycle needs to be back in the driver’s seat and the wagon wheel will start rolling down the slope once again.

About The Author
Ram Walase is MD & CEO – Urban Infrastructure, IL&FS.

Leave a Reply