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Urbanization and Development

Posting my comment on Atanu's blog today:

Ibrahimpatnam used to be a sleepy little mandal headquarters some 35 km from Hyderabad,India.

At first, there was a residential school and college, 3 km from this small town.And then, a private engineering college came up. In the next 5 years, 4 more engineering colleges came up in the vicinity.

The residential school is owned by a trust, and is located on a huge tract of farm land – around 300 acres.The school with student hostels, classrooms, staff quarters, play grounds, open air and indoor theaters, occupies around 70 acres of land. The rest of the land is farmed by locals, the produce feeds the entire campus, and the surplus is sold in the nearby market.
Recently, Reliance Fresh approached the trust, to buy part of the land, to setup their warehouses including cold storage facilities. They want to use the facility to serve their stores in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The establishment of the school, and the engineering colleges, started the growth process in Ibrahimpatnam and its surroundings. But the moment Reliance started its operations, it has acted as a catalyst, and within the last one year, there has been amazing growth in the overall modernization of Ibrahimpatnam.Right from a cellular tower, to proliferation of shops and hotels, clinics and internet connectivity, the town is fast becoming a nice area to live.
What the educational institutions started, got accelerated by Reliance Fresh – the anchor customer for the area (providing well-paying jobs to around 2000 people). Locals can get a job near their homes and are seeing good money for the first time.

Some thing similar, on a much larger scale has happened in Guttala Begumpet-Madhapur-Kondapur areas on the outskirts of Hyderabad between 1997-2003. In a span of 5-6 years, these sleepy hamlets got transformed into Cyberabad. A similar transformation is likely to happen in Maheswaram mandal (Hyderabad) and Devanahalli (Bangalore) when the proposed international airports come up by 2009.

The lessons are obvious.Development happens when jobs get created. And jobs get created when business ventures are set up using cheap land available an hour’s drive from any major city. And when the model matures across the country, the maximum distance between one city and another won’t be more than one hour of journey by road/rail.

We need to understand how such development has taken place, and replicate the same wherever feasible. Nandigram is more a case of ineffective communication and an implementation method that was people unfriendly.

Comments

Anindita said…
Salboni used to be, and still is, a sleepy village in West Midnapur, West Bengal. When the new note press there started its first production in 1996, the railway station did not have a proper platform, the village did not have public transport (public transport in a village??), and the local shop did not know what kissan jam and maggi noodles were. The Note Press was a government initiative on an abandoned airstrip (WW II era), which meant that the factory could not provide jobs to locals (all that suff about "competitive all-India recruitment" and "reservation on jobs").
It is 2007 today, and the change in Salboni is visible. For starters, there's an eating place where non-locals can grab a bite. And there's a ramshackle bus, ready to fall apart, that ferries people to and from the railway station. The road to the station is asphalted. And the villagers need not travel to Kharagpur, a bone-rattling 1-hour ride on a bus, to ply their trade - for the Note Press presented a captive market. Besides, two express trains now stop at the Salboni station, a place that served only passengers till recently.
So, why was Salboni not another Nandigram? As I see it, three reasons:
(1) The government already had the land. It was a barren, ununsed air-strip, surrounded by a forest of Sal trees that were not onwed privately and could be cut down.
(2) The pace of development was not scorching. It took almost 10 years before a private player (Vishakha cement) could be pursuaded to open a cement factory in the village. The slow pace let the villagers adjust to, and appreciate, change.
(3) The farmers still farm on their lands. No one took it away.
...Just my two cents' worth.
Kumar Narasimha said…
Anindita,

I think we could agree that the pace of development need not be slow or fast, but 'natural'.

Also, the point some of us are making is that urbanization is the best way to develop rural people (not rural areas), and that agriculture output should be much more than what we have now, with much less land or people dependent on it.

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