Prime Minister Narendra Modi has presented each of the vows he had created from his time as the Chief Minister of Gujarat—be it about Narmada’s water stretching each village for drinking and irrigation, transforming canals into underground pipelines to assure water enters villages in Gujarat, giving the state the solar power capital with an energy surplus, 16 hours of constant electric power supply for farmers, toilets in each household, increasing the height of the Sardar Sarovar, or building the Statue of Unity, which presently endures tall in the tribal region of the Narmada, hiring thousands of youths.
Recently, the news reported about Tata Power performing Bhoomi puja for 400 MW solar power plants at Dholera SIR (Special Investment Region). Between the worldwide lockdown of real estate and infrastructure, this has produced a new life for the industries. The project is the section of the 5,000 MW solar power plant which the government of Gujarat is preparing up for the future-ready smart city of Dholera, which had been formulated and designed by the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.
Another important improvement, which occurred on 18 September in Gujarat, was the first consent for project development being published by the Dholera Development Authority & Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) to the developer, GAP Associate Pvt Ltd. This might appear like a normal thing but it is exceptional. It is the result of 11 years of hard work, and a piece of the promise given by Narendra Modi: “Jis project ka Bhoomi pujan hum karenge, uska lokarpan Bhi hum hi karke Jayenge (Projects conceived by us will be completed in our time).”
Dholera is an old harbor city and was a rich destination in history. The famous 5,000-year-old Lothal port was a portion of it. The 350-year-old temple of the Swaminarayan faction, built by the first guru, is also still there and visited by thousands of followers each year. Five hundred years ago, when Karnavati (Ahmedabad) was established by Karn Solanki, the Chalukya king of Patan, the center of development and trade had moved to the new city. Nature performed a big role and Bhal Pradesh began attending frequent droughts which caused people to relocate to other regions for their livings. However, with the building of check dams over Saurashtra-Kutch, the region witnessed a sheer increase in rains and groundwater. The dry lands of Saurashtra started producing gold for farmers in the early years of the century, and people arrived back from places like Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, and Vadodara, to grow their fields again. Today, with Narmada’s water reaching Saurashtra, those flourishing days are back.
The change is what brought the idea of establishing up a green city to Modi in 2007 when he was selected Chief Minister again with a thumping majority. The concept of selecting Dholera may appear orthodox to his critics, but it reclines faith in and admires the knowledge of our forefathers. A grand old city, with its harbor and drainage system 5,000 years ago, when the rest of the world was managing leaves to cover their bodies and roaming in jungles.
The Special Industrial Region Act was conceived and set in 2009. The world-class planner Halcrow was involved in designing the city, which will have the integrity of village life with the facilities of a world-class metro. The vast 920 sq km land was carved out of 27 villages and presented the name of Dholera. From 2009 to 2014, measuring and designing sectors, road grids, distributing the place into industrial zones, residential and commercial sectors, defining district and city centers, schools and colleges, marketplaces, and zones for high-rise skyscrapers and recreation, representing sea-face expansion and 250-meter trunk infrastructure, allotting a dedicated international airport and seaport for smooth cargo administration, fixing up metro connectivity from Ahmedabad, etc, were taken out, and a draft town planning was set in April 2014, the year of the general elections.
- Growers will not dissipate their lands, the government will give world-class support with future-ready stocks free of cost, and landowners will get 50% of their underdeveloped land, which is normally 40% in other parts of the nation.
- Farmers can also market and promote residential, industrial, and commercial schemes on their lands or enter into alliances. For the left 50%, farmers will get benefit from the government, even though the administration hasn’t obtained it yet.
- In 2017, L&T has ascribed the base development work, for Rs 2,000 crore for a 22.5 sq km area, recognized as the activation area. A few other building companies got the obligation of the central administrative building, water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, ETP, power plant, and the protection diaphragm wall around the city.
- The government has given over Rs 5,000 crore so far and the 22.5 sq km area is able to plug and play. Industries can come and begin production within six months of their entry as they do not have to elaborate any infrastructure, as all amenities are already at their battery limits.
- Tata has obtained land to install a Li-ion battery for automobiles at Dholera SIR and is continuing to begin work soon, and the GAP group has also endured RERA approval for project development.
- Dholera will make six lakh jobs in the next five to ten years. It will divide the burden of cities like Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Rajkot and stop migration from villages.
- The development of a four-lane expressway between Ahmedabad and Dholera SIR is also in the process to join the cities with just a one-hour journey. Dholera SIR has grown more vital after the pandemic. People are now moving away from compact city lives to village-style living, but with the availability of modern-day amenities at walking distance and workplaces.
- Dholera is also sketched in such a system that one would not have to move more than 3 km for a job from home. Further, no home will be lesser than 200 sq m, no factory lesser than 1,000 sq m, and no road lesser than 18 meters. Even society roads are 12 m wide. Also, no polluting industries will be permitted in the city.
People frequently inquire about what happened to the vow of Dholera SIR which Modi had assured 12 years back. The result is that cities take hundreds of years to form, and related to that, the sort of development Dholera has created in the last 10 years is remarkable. We cannot criticize Modi for the sake of scrutinizing even Gurugram and Noida are still in progress. The affordable land prices are also a big help as even the lower middle class would be capable to own houses here.