Saturday, February 6, 2010

India - We require more new cities.

Over the last few months there have been constant rumblings by the MNS and Shiv Sena about the status of outsiders in Mumbai. The point of attack are the North Indians. A few years back it was the South Indians. Often the frustration has been on account of over crowding of Mumbai and the presuure on the infrastructure. Even a balanced politician like Sheila Dixit had expressed concern over the crowding and pressure on the infrastructure of Delhi. While the MNS and Shiv Sena make political capital out of this, Sheila Dixit quickly retracted due to the expected political fallout, though her observations were right on mark.

Naturally a country which has been growing at a rapid pace, with a demographically favourable younger population and reduction of dependence on agriculture for employment, would have large impact on urbanization. We have been witnessing this over the last three decades. Wherein in the sixties a number of large industrial townships came up with the PSU model of expansion, the process has relatively slowed down with growing privatisation of industry.

It is important that we create new cities by planned expansion of existing large towns. We also need to create new towns where the pressure of land acquisition would be less. The central India offers vast tract of land with relatively low density of population and offers substantial opportunity. Every large state should come up with at least three to five alternates for their current over crowded and over stretched cities.

The government should also tighten its policy implementation. During the mid 90s when a number of private sector banks and also IDFC were licensed, the registered offices were distributed in a number of mid size cities. However, the intent was quietly killed and every one conveniently placed the corporate office in Mumbai. Do we need such a geographical concentration in a net worked world ?

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