Create new cities urgently or suffer like Delhi, warns real estate industry

'It will take at least 20 to 25 years for these cities to come up'

PTI11_07_2023_000158B A thick smog blankets the capital city of Delhi | PTI

“We need new cities across the country now. If we don’t plan new cities, every city is going to suffer like Delhi!” G.Hari Babu, national president of the National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), the industry body of India’s realty sector, is sadly not being over-dramatic.

Over-population and the resultant urban malaise is nothing new to India. But it has been getting acute as months and years pass by. This winter, even the seaside metropolis of Mumbai was reeling from smog and bad quality air, something you never equate with a seaside town where the winds do an effective exhaust-like cleaning.

However, the deterioration is such that even smaller towns and places that were erstwhile making it to the ‘cleanest cities’ list, are now limping with problems ranging from erratic water and electricity, lack of effective waste disposal, unruly traffic, and the veritable nail in the coffin, air quality index (AQI) levels so bad that Indian cities now have a stranglehold on the Top 10 list of the world’s most polluted cities.

The solution, if you go by Naredco, is long term planning – to build from the ground up a series of new well-planned cities across the country.

“Every state has to make a new city,” said Babu, “It will take at least 20 to 25 years for these cities to come up. The only way we can keep our present cities (functional) is this – you have to reduce the load on the present cities,” he added.

The Naredco president pointed to India’s present city mix of seven metro cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad) and another 20 emerging mini metros. “It should be at least 30 metro cities,” he said, “That’s the only way we can fulfill the 2047 Amrit Kaal vision (of India as a developed nation).”

From rapid urbanisation, we need to focus on reverse migration, Naredco officials commented, pointing our how India’s present mix of 32 per cent urban and remaining citizens living in rural areas would change to 51 per cent living in cities by 2050.

“51 per cent urban is more than 80 crore people,” Babu exclaimed, “You can’t make present municipal corporations adapt cities of 2 crore (or more) to 4 crore population without a deterioration in living standards. New cities are required for every state.”

When asked how the new cities will come into their own without attracting people with employment opportunities, he said, “It will take time. (But will be faster) if governments shifted their offices to these new cities.”

Babu was speaking at the curtain raiser to Naredco’s upcoming National Convention next month in Delhi themed on ‘The Changing Real Estate Landscape'. The event will be attended Union ministers like Hardeep Puri and Nitin Gadkari, among others.

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp