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At a glance, Dholera appears like any ordinary Indian town. But if everything goes according to plan, this town will become the first developed city on the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) by 2018. "It will be a smart city with all facilities," says Amitabh Kant, CEO, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation.
Dholera, which is 120km from Ahmedabad, is to be developed as a heavy engineering zone and will be bigger than Singapore in size. It is being planned as a self-sustainable eco city with modern infrastructure. Once developed, it will cater to a population of 20 lakh and create eight lakh jobs.
The land acquisition for creating the 900-sq.km city is going at full speed. The villages in the vicinity will be part of the upcoming city.
Kant has set aside the existing pattern of developing cities where housing is at one place and shopping, schools and other facilities are at different locations. "In Dholera, the housing, schooling and shopping will exist together," he says. Most of the development would be vertical rather than horizontal to create space and save energy.
Apart from Dholera, there will be six cities a la Singapore along the corridor. All of them will be self-sustainable in water, electricity and power. They will have their own gas-based power plants and an industrial waste recycling facility. The cities will utilise all their waste, based on Japan’s Kitakyushu model. In Maharashtra, a new city will be developed near Dighi port spread across 350sq.km. The other cities will come up in Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
All roofs in the cities will have rainwater harvesting system and solar panels. Solid waste will be recycled in a special plant and converted into household items. A consortium of four Japanese companies—Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Hitachi and JGC— has started work on developing recycling units in Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
The cost of developing Dholera is 150,000 crore, with the government making an initial investment of 13,000 crore. "Thirty per cent of the total cost will be borne by the government while the rest will be public -private partnership," says Kant.
The corridor is a mega infrastructure project of $90 billion with financial and technical aid from Japan. It covers 1,483km between India’s political capital and business capital. The idea behind the corridor is to create world-class industrial regions and investment zones to augment the industrial output of the country. "Once [it is] developed, India’s industrial production and exports will be doubled," says Anand Sharma, minister for commerce and industries. "Approximately 18 crore people will benefit from the corridor."
The corridor project incorporates nine mega industrial zones of 250sq.km, a high speed freight line, three ports, six airports, a six-lane intersection-free expressway connecting the two metros and a 4,000MW power plant. Several industrial estates and hubs with top-of-the-line infrastructure will be developed along the corridor. Funds for the projects will come from the Centre apart from Japanese loans, investment by Japanese firms and Japan depository receipts issued by Indian companies.
The rail freight corridor will start from Tughlakabad near Delhi and reach Vasai Road in Mumbai with nine junctions on the way. About 150 kilometres on both sides of the corridor will be specified as investment region. In all, there will be 11 investment regions and 13 industrial areas. Out of the lot, six investment regions and industrial areas will be taken up for development in the first phase.
The first phase of the corridor, which includes development of the new cities, is scheduled to be completed by 2018. Minister of State for Telecommunication Sachin Pilot is excited about the project. His constituency, Ajmer, has been selected as one of the industrial areas and investment zones. "DMIC is a big step by our government to change the lives of people of Rajasthan," he says.
Six gas-based power plants—two in Gujarat and Maharashtra and one each in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan—will be established. One solar power plant will come up in Rajasthan. In the first phase, two greenfield airports will come up in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The sites are being selected.
Maharashtra and Gujarat account for the largest share of the corridor. "The DMIC project will boost Maharashtra’s industrial output by 120,000 billion over the next three decades," says Kshatrapati Shivaji, CEO, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation. The project would also create 23 lakh additional jobs over the same period." The MIDC is acquiring 70,000 hectares to accommodate the DMIC initiatives and steps are also being taken to ensure water allocation and superior road and rail connections to and from every DMIC hub.
On August 11, a delegation representing Japan’s Hyogo prefectural government visited Ahmedabad and other places through which the corridor passes. "The delegation was in the city to analyse educational policies, economic and trading environment, infrastructure and transportation in the city," said I.P. Gautam, municipal commissioner, Ahmedabad.
The Gujarat government has already acquired the land for the project while the other governments are in the process of acquisition. Since 70 per cent of the project will depend on private investment, lots of concerns may come up regarding the approvals. "We are de-risking the project and putting it up for investment," says Kant. "It is tough but many countries in the world have done it. It is our turn to do it."