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Construction : Special Report | September 2018 | Source : Infrastructure Today

Dholera: A New Era

Greenfield Dholera industrial city is targeting industries such as defence and aero, heavy engineering, auto and auto ancillaries, general manufacturing, pharma and biotechnology, electronics industries, IT and ITES, and agro and food processing. These industries are expected to create around one million job opportunities.

Urbanisation has become an inexorable part of the economic development. Human productivity and associated wages from industry services often have concentrated settlements on urban agglomerates. Increased population largely due to the migration has compelled many cities to redraw their urban boundaries, often carving into adjacent townships or villages, leaving urban planners at the mercy of complex infrastructure expansions. In the last two decades, India has witnessed rapid urbanisation and now there are 60 cities with more than a million population. Colonisation of large migrated workforce around industrial settlements in cities has led to enormous deficiencies in urban structure, leading to unsustainable development and economic inequalities.

The coming decade is bound to experience tremendous pressure to efficiently build and administer civic infrastructure such as water, wastewater, storm drainage, power, recycled water, solid waste and transport systems in the Indian metropolises. The 100 Smart Cities Mission (SCM)- a programme administered under the Ministry of Urban Development- is a mega project which is expected to transform the existing cities. For developing greenfield industrial townships, which would collectively increase India's manufacturing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current approximately 15 per cent to over 25 per cent, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) has embarked on building eight greenfield industrial townships or cities. These are built under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and hence, are different from the 100 SCM.

Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR) is one such industrial city, 100 km south of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Dholera Industrial City Development (DICDL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) and partnership between the Governments of Gujarat and India, is developing India's largest greenfield smart industrial township. DICDL is investing Rs 30 billion in trunk infrastructure for an area of 22.54 sq km (2,254 HA). In total, there are 24 nods of which investment will happen in the first eight nods. Here, DSIR brings its equity in the form of land.

'The Gujarat Government is transferring 4,000-5,000 HA of land to the SPV,' says Jai Prakash Shivahare, Managing Director, Dholera Industrial City Development. 'The basic idea is to create key infrastructure in our activation area in the first phase and later monetise land parcel in our possession to generate resources and create infrastructure for the next 30 years.' Of the entire area, roughly 28 per cent of the land will be up for industrial use, 28 per cent for residential use, and the rest will be demarcated as commercial and green zone.

The Dholera authorities are targeting industries such as defence and aero, heavy engineering, auto and auto ancillaries, general manufacturing, pharma and biotechnology, electronics industries, IT and ITES and agro and food processing. These industries are expected to create around one million job opportunities.

Dholera's USP
Since Dholera is the owner of the largest land parcel in the whole of South East Asia, for the benefit of investors, according to Shivahare, the SPV can club the land parcels together and expand it to as much as 750 HA. That apart, Dholera is creating plug-in infrastructure with all its utilities installed underground. So, what makes Dholera claim to be a world-class city? This industrial city has engaged the world's best experts like Aecom, a US-based Project Management Consultant (PMC). Meanwhile, Dholera has engaged consultants who have done studies of nearly 10 world-class cities to ensure that the best ideas are derived.

'Dholera's infrastructure is inspired from various countries or cities,' claims head of DICD. For instance, the consultants studied water infrastructure of cities like Singapore, Hong Kong and California and found that the best practices are applied in Singapore, where the city's non-revenue water is of mere 7 per cent. This has inspired Dholera to design a water infrastructure where non-revenue water will be lesser than 5 per cent. With regard to Dholera's ICT network, its consultant, Wipro has studied Singapore and London and is implementing the best of practices here. Dholera's ICT network will be a City Integration Operation Centre (CIOC), which would synchronise all functions, including traffic management, safety and security, emergency response, utility services, telecommunications and civic administration. The entire operation will be integrated with regional and national databases, including Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), for better law enforcement and rapid response.

Dholera will have e-governance systems and city applications for local administration and facilitation, transport, healthcare, education, urban planning, city asset management and a citizen's portal. The Citizens' Interaction Centre will provide a one-stop service and will have standardised processes to enable civic authorities to follow regulatory framework, manage approvals and budgets and provide a host of other citizen services. City-wide sensors and highly secure scalable networks will collect information and dashboards that combine real-time data from various sources will help in planning.

Dholera will use analytics for efficient budgeting and to determine which areas to target for the improvement of infrastructure amenities. The city will have special process applications for water management├╗ to assess quality, detect overflows and reduce wastage. Dholera will provide electricity 24 x 7 and will use ICT to manage power usage and lower costs. An advanced data centre will be the cloud hub of the region, offering state-of-art computing platform to city administrators, government agencies, residents and businesses.

Infrastructure
One might ponder over Dholera's ultimate development of 920 sq km and its socio-economic benefits against the expenses that would be incurred. 'Besides attracting businesses,' says Shivahare, 'Dholera also aspires to be the most liveable city in India.

It will be a leading example of how mega initiatives in smart cities will transform India and increase the manufacturing GDP.' A Dholera official claims that the entire city is based on the concept of work, live and play. This will be one of India's well-planned industrial cities that would not only house industries but also residential areas. Since Dholera was once a port city, its drainage systems were much ahead of time. That said, with new ideas and gen-next planners taking over the city's reins, the city authority is building a totally new drainage system that will not affect the eco-system. Here, Dholera's consultants come with a unique solution. 'We are building an artificial canal 6 km long, 20 m wide which would save us from creating additional drainage infrastructure,' Shivahare explains. According to Dholera officials, this artificial canal will be the main attraction of the city as it would also house public parks.

Besides trunk infrastructure, Dholera is building an ultra-mega solar park of 5,000 MW capacity with the first phase of 1,000 MW tender out by September 2018. Investments close to Rs 250 billion are expected for this ultra-solar park. Dholera is also building a greenfield airport at a cost of Rs 20 billion, where the Airport Authority of India is an equity partner. 'We have signed the proposal and it is under process. It will take four years, but we are expecting some kind of work in the next six months,' updates Shivahare.

Roughly, the overall cost incurred for the infrastructure development is Rs 44 billion. At present, the SPV has already awarded eight contracts worth Rs 28 billion, that is, Rs 11 billion for power distribution work, which will be implemented by the private sector and Rs 17.34 billion for roads and services, including underground infrastructure, power duct and ITC duct. It is expected that the entire infrastructure will be developed by 2019.

That said, it has been a long and exciting journey to build Dholera from scratch, encouraged by the fact that mega projects will transform the socio-economic fabric of the nation. After a marathon interaction, Shivahare, on a concluding note mentions, 'Many lessons were learnt along the way: in adopting creative engineering and design, developing a low-lying flat terrain and implementing the world's best programme management tools to collaborate and manage several consultants and contractors simultaneously.'

- RAHUL KAMAT

 
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