Can Gujarat’s lead in SIR provide answer to India’s Perennial problem?
Ahmedabad, 16 June 2013
Special Investment Region (SIR) act was passed by Gujarat Government in 2009, but thanks to five star NGOs, SIR is lately in news for the different reasons. The NGOs are reportedly instigating farmers in Mandal-Becharaji Area which is notified as Mandal-Becharaji SIR (MBSIR). Who are those NGOs and what could be their intentions is dissected in detail by DeshGujarat (read it here). If you think all NGOs work for noble cause, I also recommend you read Mediacrook’s classic analysis on NGOs. Alarming fact that comes out is, they indulge in such activity based on funding received by common people who may not even know where their donation will end up. Classic example being CRY as mentioned in above MediaCrooks Article.
Without having any understanding of the situation, the NGOs are instigating. The questions are being raised against SIR. For a while leaving those NGO shops aside, we will try to focus and explore what is this Special Investment Region (SIR) all about? Why is it extremely bad idea to oppose it?
To start with the concept of SIR was borrowed on the Asian model. It is an extremely proven model, first applied in Japan in 1960s, when Japan was embarking upon industrialization to spur economy in most sustainable way. Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is also being jointly designed with Japanese help and SIR is the core essence when it comes to implementing DMIC. Taiheyo Belt Development Program of Japan was the original blueprint based on which many Asian countries have emulated their sustainable development plans. DMIC also derives much of its idea based on this proven blueprint.
April-2010, on extremely hot day close to 500 investors thronged at Seminar venue in Ahmedabad’s western area. UPA’s only major industrial policy scheme Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) was the topic of discussion. The venue was Ahmedabad as Gujarat was taking special interest in this project by being way ahead of other states in terms of preparedness. Amitabh Kant IAS officer from Central Govt and CEO of DMIC Development Corporation (DMICDC) passionately explained the concept of SIR as the core essence within DMIC. He has been championing this cause at every possible forum both within and outside India.
Backed by various survey reports, he shared rather alarmingly the rate at which India is urbanizing. Statistics flew like kites on Uttarayan day. Every minute 30 people in India are moving from Rural to Urban area, in the same breath he continued by 2030 close to 350 million people will be part of urbanization process.
He explained rather very convincingly that when western Countries embarked upon urbanization, two things were very cheap; Water and Oil. Extravagant American Dream was possible cause of the affordability of Oil. When India urbanizes, we don’t have luxury of cheap oil and water is only going to be scarce. Hence the Industrialization and Urbanization has to be in sync with sustainability and as much low carbon footprint as possible.
He continued that we need compact cities where people can work, live, play and flourish without getting choked in Traffic. DMIC he added is nothing but clusters of such new cities to be called Special Investment Region (SIR) or Special Investment Area (SAR), where industrial and service growth will be in sync with growing human potential. In other words, DMIC was as much industrial project as it is developing human capital of India by building sustainable Cities for them to work live and play. The above plan and statement looks quite normal yet very audacious in context of India.
Faulty Nehruvian model for economy being practiced for long, we have hardly created new cities in last 66 years since independence. In fact besides Bhuvneshwar, Chandigarh and Gandhinagar in Gujarat and recently New Raipur, in Chattisgarh there is hardly anything to count on well-planned new cities in India. Ill-planned Cities like Gurgaon is nothing but extension of Delhi (We will come to Gurgaon later).
This dismal record notwithstanding, Mr. Amitabh Kant was speaking with full confidence. His faith was not unfounded as he knew ability Gujarat Government to realize this dream. Gujarat, one of the most rapidly urbanizing states has understood the message very well and for long it is a pivotal force for DMIC. So much so that most of the Japanese funded projects in DMIC infrastructure prefer Gujarat (Read my Article on how Gujarat became driving force for DMIC ) Before even Mr. Kant took over, Gujarat Govt was ready with the SIR act, covering minute part of implementing this sustainable nodes development.
It was very well aligned to the overall plan of DMIC. The chief minister or for that matter any of the political leaders unlike in other states, did not ask to tweak the plan to lure investment in their own constituency. Rather Gujarat focussed on balanced growth of state. Hence while Dholera SIR is chosen as part of DMIC project, State went ahead and identified more such potential SIR area to give balanced development which can help people and industry in most sustainable way.
In next article we will look at what happens when unsustainable cities take shape, and we will come back to Mandal-Becharaji SIR.
Next article: Lost decade under UPA and risk of Demographic Curse
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