Lead Story

The road to nowhere

Given India’s tryst with infrastructure, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project is already on shaky ground

Photographs by Vishal Koul

No power cuts, no water shortage. Public transportation will be available at no more than a 10-minute walk and environment-friendly ways of transportation — cycling, for instance, or even walking — will be encouraged through dedicated tracks by the roads. All utilities will be underground — whether it is parking for vehicles, sewage disposal, water and electricity lines, TV or telephone cables. Water harvesting, recycling and the use of solar energy will be a defining feature of these ‘live-work-play’ communities. Houses, hospitals, schools, offices, airports, convention centres and mass rapid transit systems — name the amenity you want and you’ll find it here.

Where is ‘here’? China, or some place in the Gulf? What if we said these are plans for India? Because that’s what the master plan for the $90-billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) envisages — futuristic industrial cities, logistical hubs and residential townships that can compete with the best in the world — right alongside the 1,483-km stretch of the dedicated railway freight corridor. If the DMIC’s plans come to fruition, Shanghai — the city that Indian agglomerations should aspire to be when they grow up, according to our politicians and developers — will seem like a little two-horse town in the middle of nowhere.

Work on one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the world will start next year, seven years after it was first conceptualised. According to the grand plan, 24 greenfield investment regions will be carved out in six states through which the freight corridor passes, completely transforming India’s industrial sector. The ‘smart’ cities that will come up in these regions will attract people and companies and boost exports four-fold to $720 billion in less than a decade from now. Sounds impressive? There’s more. These regions, varying in size from 84 sq km to over 900 sq km, will come up with a combined investment of $90-100 billion. 

The choice of states should definitely help. The six states under the DMIC — Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra — already account for 43% of the country’s GDP, 57% of the value of exports, 45% of the factories in the country and 45% of the workers. Creating hubs or investment regions shoul

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