The un­even ur­ban growth of Delhi NCR

The ‘fu­ture readi­ness’ of a city can be gauged from its past pace of devel­op­ment, and from what it has al­ready achieved in terms of in­fra­struc­ture. So, how will Delhi NCR fare?

HT Estates - - Front Page - Ro­han Sharma

In terms of planned ur­ban growth, the ev­i­dence for real es­tate devel­op­ment be­ing backed by the cre­ation of as­so­ci­ated phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture is higher in Noida and Greater Noida. Gur­gaon and Farid­abad are at the op­po­site spec­trum, where in­fra­struc­ture is devel­oped af­ter the real es­tate po­ten­tial of an area has been nearly fully ex­ploited. In other words, in­fra­struc­ture projects in th­ese ar­eas are largely taken up only af­ter an area is al­ready primed for real es­tate growth. Even so, Gur­gaon has seen the max­i­mum cap­i­tal ap­pre­ci­a­tion for in­vestors and end users.

The up­com­ing ar­eas of Dwarka Ex­press­way and new sec­tors on both sides of NH 8 up to Mane­sar are part of the Master Plan 2031. As a re­sult, in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment in th­ese sec­tors is now be­ing taken up ac­tively to sup­port the large res­i­den­tial projects ex­pected to reach com­ple­tion over the next three to five years. How­ever, de­spite this for­ward-look­ing ap­proach of ca­pac­ity build­ing and fu­ture plan­ning, it re­mains to be seen whether the up­com­ing ur­ban sprawl will be suf­fi­ciently sup­ported by nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture. Fun­da­men­tally, the Master Plan is a state­ment of in­tent and not a time-bound guar­an­tee.

Master plan­ning

Zon­ing and master plan­ning is an ex­er­cise that al­lows the au­thor­i­ties to con­trol the di­rec­tion and ex­tent of a city’s growth bound­aries while bring­ing newer ar­eas un­der their man­age­ment. At times, changes are re­quired to en­sure that the growth po­ten­tial is not un­der­mined by slow pol­icy mak­ing. Bring­ing newer ar­eas un­der devel­op­ment aids and ben­e­fits spec­u­la­tors and land own­ers as well as real­tors who ac­quired land be­fore the area was brought un­der the Master Plan.

But time­lines in Master Plans are usu­ally guid­ing in na­ture. In other words - though all ma­jor mile­stones to be achieved by the state author­ity in terms of im­proved road net­work, power ca­pac­ity and sewage treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties are linked to as­so­ci­ated time­lines, th­ese are mostly in­dica­tive. Most of th­ese un­der­tak­ings are cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive and part of larger in­fra­struc­ture projects. Thus, there are in­vari­ably de­lays in their ex­e­cu­tion and sub­se­quent op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion. Also, it is only the larger projects to be un­der­taken by the au­thor­i­ties that have a guid­ance time­lines as­so­ci­ated with them.

Tech­ni­cally, a Master Plan brings newer ar­eas un­der its purview so as to achieve a more com­pre­hen­sive level of devel­op­ment. It also serves as a means to dis­cour­age devel­op­ment of ur­ban vil­lages and un­reg­u­lated devel­op­ment near the growth cor­ri­dors al­ready un­der devel­op­ment. Thus, the ben­e­fits are to­wards cre­at­ing a more in­clu­sive devel­op­ment plan, keep­ing in mind fu­ture growth pro­jec­tions. This also fu­els as­so­ci­ated phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture ca­pac­ity build­ing. How­ever, im­por­tant is­sues such as power ca­pac­ity build­ing, en­vi­ron­ment im­pact as­sess­ment are not ad­dressed.

Pre­pared for the fu­ture?

The ‘fu­ture readi­ness’ of a city can be gauged from its past pace of devel­op­ment, and from what it has al­ready achieved in terms of in­fra­struc­ture. This usu­ally gives a clear idea of where the city stands in terms of its fu­ture plan­ning.

The ac­tual rate of pop­u­la­tion growth in th­ese ar­eas over the next 10-20 years is likely to ex­ceed all pre­vi­ous pro­jec­tions. This means that th­ese satel­lite cities are poised for a devel­op­ment ex­plo­sion. With more fam­i­lies mov­ing there, th­ese satel­lite cities will be se­ri­ously chal­lenged in terms of cre­at­ing sus­tain­able and live­able ecosys­tems. NoidaGreater Noida, Gur­gaon and Farid­abad are ex­pected to ex­pand by six to eight times their cur­rent size, with higher val­u­a­tions for prop­erty fol­low­ing nat­u­rally on the back of de­vel­op­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Is ver­ti­cal growth a so­lu­tion?

Grow­ing ver­ti­cally is of­ten seen as a good op­tion in a city lack­ing ad­e­quate space for growth and newer projects. How­ever, the pri­mary need in the NCR is to de­velop in­fra­struc­ture at a pace that al­lows city bound­aries to ex­pand. This will not only bring bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture to the far-flung towns but also re­sult in more uni­form growth. In­creas­ing FAR to in­cen­tivise ver­ti­cal growth can put im­mense pres­sure on a lo­ca­tion’s ground­wa­ter – not to men­tion other nat­u­ral re­sources. Power costs in­crease as water would have to be pumped to higher lev­els. Grow­ing ver­ti­cally is not al­ways the so­lu­tion. Rather, such growth is a pre­cur­sor to newer chal­lenges in a coun­try like In­dia with fi­nite re­sources and lag­ging in­fras­truc­tural devel­op­ment.

SANJEEV VERMA

A Master Plan dis­cour­ages devel­op­ment of ur­ban vil­lages and un­reg­u­lated devel­op­ment near the growth cor­ri­dors

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