Gurugram: Reflection of crooked growth
The Millennium City’s rise has been as stratospheric as it has been erratic and while Gurugram has achieved part of its promise, much has slipped through the cracks, making it an ideal case study in city planning
With a population of 37 million in 2028, the United Nations department of economic and social welfare has predicted that the National Capital Region (NCR) will displace Tokyo as the largest metropolitan area in the world.
Nowhere has the rapid growth of NCR been more visible than in Gurugram. According to the Haryana government, the population in Gurugram from 2001-2011 has witnessed a 74 per cent growth. The number of settlements is only increasing with a recent survey by a public agency in the city indicating that two lakh people have come and settled in the city in the last three years.
Like any modern city, the key to success of Gurugram has been its evolution over the years. The availability of large tracts of land on the outskirts of the National Capital made the area compelling for developing residential colonies and commercial sectors. Realising that employment was significant for the development, large industrial townships and cyber parks were created.Despite its positives, the Gurugram model of growth is now falling apart. Gurugram may have contributed a great deal but is it an example worth reckoning in terms of urban planning and urban governance systems?
Untapped opportunity & subsequent prosperity
Hailed as the land of Guru Dronacharya, Gurugram was a land of legacy. Despite neighbouring National Capital, the region was not economically significant until 1983. Most of the investors preferred Faridabad to set up their new businesses.
The tides changed in 1976 during the time of emergency when large tracts of land were allotted to the Maruti factory – a project supervised by the then Prime Minister's son, Sanjay Gandhi. Despite the setting up of the Maruti factory, the area was still a sleepy giant till one untapped opportunity was exploited by a private developer.
Credited for developing various residential colonies including Greater Kailash, Delhi Land and Finance (DLF) could not grow further in Delhi as the DDA law of 1958 prevented residential colonies to be developed by the private builders. There was no such law that was prevalent in Haryana and towards the beginning of the 1980s, the company began acquiring land directly from the farmers bordering Delhi.
Making of THE Millennium City
In the span of a few years, the exponential real estate growth made Gurugram the golden goose for Haryana. What propelled the wealth creation further was the growth of the IT sector in early 2000s.
Gurugram is the third-largest hub of the IT Industry in India after Bengaluru and Hyderabad. To date, a total of 49 licenses have been granted by the state government for the establishment of IT Parks over an area of about 603.99 acres.
The per capita income of a resident in Gurugram is Rs 4.6 lakh compared to Rs 1.3 lakh nationally. The average household consumption is Rs 33,881 per month.
The wealth and job creation has held even the real estate sector in good stead, even in times of downturn. The stamp duty collections in the year 2018-19 were Rs 1,560 crore higher than previous collections of Rs 1,303 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 1,284 crore in 2016-17.
Moment of reckoning
With the Gurugram model becoming a success, the government acquired large tracts of land from the farmers of the villages in the periphery. What happened thereon was a host of litigations, builders failing to complete the projects and new residents forced to live in poor and unsafe conditions.
As per the Comptroller and Auditor General Compliance audit report of 2017 in Gurugram-Manesar Urban Development Plan 2031, 4,570 hectares of land was earmarked for SEZ land from the year 2006. Moreover, Section 5 of the Haryana Ceiling on Land Holding Act, 1972 was amended. With this amendment, private developers were allowed to buy unlimited chunks of land for non-agriculture purposes.
With an abundance of land availability, over 250 big and small developers became a part of the booming business mainly around the Dwarka Expressway.
It was incumbent on the senior officials of the district and town planning department that developers will not pre-launch or sell the space before approval of building plans. However, the CAG observed that even though approval from several agencies was awaited and building plan not being approved, the developers publicised their projects – even building plans were available across various websites in the public domain.
Unfair land acquisition and poor compensation led to the landowners approaching the courts that led to the stalling of development works and projects. The apex court directed CBI investigations on land acquisitions that are still under process. Even after more than 13 years since it was first conceptualised, Dwarka Expressway continues to remain undeveloped.
Unable to get proper licenses, the builders have not been able to provide basic amenities like electricity, water and sewage system to its residents. It is estimated that over 15,000 households do not receive power supply all day long and therefore are dependent on the diesel generators. The situation is even worse for societies that completely depend upon diesel generators for power supply throughout the day. With most of the residential societies functioning without occupation certificate, safety mechanisms like the renewal of fire NOC and maintenance of lifts are also not being undertaken.Most of the public agencies today in Gurugram are under heavy debt. The Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) that is tasked with land acquisition and its development into residential and commercial colonies is in a debt of Rs 11,298 crore in Gurugram alone. No new residential and commercial sectors are being developed by the public agency.
Moreover, more than 60 illegal colonies in and around Gurugram came up between 2018 and 2019. As the rates of these areas are much lower than the market rates prevailing in Gurugram, these plots get enough buyers. The normal rate for residential plots in Gurugram ranges from Rs 50,000 a square yard and beyond while these illegal plots are sold at Rs 16,000 per square yard.
According to an official survey, an average Gurugram resident consumes roughly about 250 litres of water every day. In all, the overall requirement of the city is 350 MGD daily.
The two water boosting stations at Basai and Chandu Budhera produce over 450 MGD of water and that should have been enough. Yet, 45,000 households are either not receiving water supply or getting contaminated water. Public water officials cite that water being wasted through leakage of pipes, incessant wastage of water and the stronghold of tanker mafia is resulting in an escalating water crisis for the city.
Gurugram may boast of quality healthcare and educational facilities that may have made its name on the national as well as the international front. Unfortunately, for most of the residents, these services are in the hands of private players and inaccessible to many. Even though Gurugram is the richest city in Haryana, its public facilities (educational and medical) have not lived up to the mark even within the state.
Poor quality of government schools, the high fee structure of the private schools along with its non-compliance with admitting economically weaker section students are some of the major complaints that halts Gurugram's prosperity. According to an official data, there are over 200 unlicensed schools that are functional in the city.
In a city where 55,000 jobs were created through the IT sector in 2015, the success of the city is essential not only for the state government but also for the Central Government.
On July 28, 2016, when lakhs of vehicles got stranded on National Highway 8 due to above-average rainfall, the mayhem caused was a wakeup call for the government agencies. In addition to the present constrains, future challenges like cybercrime and waste management must be looked efficiently as well. The state government has already announced that a new city will be created outside Gurugram in the area of 2.5 lakh hectares. For its 1.5 million citizens, the dream of the Millenium City is still 'a work in progress'.
Gurugram is one of the major IT-ITeS clusters of the world. The city employs five per cent of the global business process management (BPM) workforce.
The auto cluster in Gurugram and surrounding areas produces more than 50 per cent of the cars and 60 per cent of motorcycles in India.
There are 1,544 startups in the city. Four out of ten major unicorns have their headquarters in Gurugram.
The per capita income of a citizen in Gurugram is Rs 4.06 lakh per annum, much higher than the national average of Rs 1.03 lakh. A typical household in Gurugram consumes on average Rs 33,881 per month.
At 0.889, the human development index (HDI) is one of the highest in the country. The literacy rate in metropolitan area is 84 per cent.
Placed under dark zone, it has officially been stated that Gurugram may run out of water in 2024. The groundwater levels in Gurugram have dipped from 6 metres in 1974 to 34 metres.
There are 10,000 diesel generators that are operational in the city. On an average,1,500 litres of diesel is consumed on daily basis.
Spread around 1,600 hectares, Aravallis in Gurugram has now been restricted to just two per cent of the total area due to unchecked encroachments. The green belt area in the city is just restricted to 8 per cent.
Number of water bodies in Gurugram has decreased from 644 in 1956 to just 123 in 2018. The absence of natural drains has placed a major challenge on public authorities to deal with flooding.
Only 28 per cent of the city's arterial road network has footpaths of which most are incomplete and poorly maintained.
There are 200 unlicensed schools in Gurugram. From 2004-2018 there have been 11,000 patients that have been referred to AIIMS and Safdarjung from the Gurugram government hospital.
There are 200 high-rise buildings above 15 meters that have not renewed their fire NOC. Not a single government school in the region (150 schools) have fire NOC.
The Haryana government has started implementation of early bird projects like Global Smart City at Gurugram with an investment potential of USD 15 Billion.
Government of Haryana is working on development of 5 cities of approx. 2.5 lakh hectare areas along KMP corridor near Gurugram.The industrial model townships (IMT) spanning in an area of 1400 acres to be developed at Sohna.
Success of the city bus service, Gurugraman. Over a year of its operation and 130 in total number, 1.5 crore passengers have used its services. There are plans to introduce more such buses.
Thirty nine IT parks expected to come up in and around Gurugram in the coming years which will focus on fibre optics, and robotics. The United Nations Technology innovation lab also expected to be developed in the area 3300 square feet area.
Gurugram University opened. Rs 500 crores to be invested in setting up Government medical college and hospital.
Major manufacturing units like Suzuki motors that owns Maruti Udyog now opting for investment in Gujarat now for manufacturing automobiles.
Owing to poor air quality levels startup firms have begun to report lower productivity levels. Some of the firms have also begun to upgrade their headquarters in other cities
Rise of Noida-Greater Noida that not only has become the hub for mobile phones manufacturing in the country but has also trumped over Gurugram in terms of providing affordable housing. The building of Jewar Airport will further boost the investments.
With 25 lakh tonnes of waste deposited at Bandhwari landfill site, waste management systems in Gurugram continue to fare poorly.
On the brink of financial collapse Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) has a debt of Rs 11,298 crores only in Gurugram. It does not plan to develop any residential colonies in the near future.