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In the present times, when the buzz word across the country has been the inevitable reality of urbanisation and the need to create smart cities, the urban planners are wondering as to which are the Indian cities that can claim to be close to the desired smart index. More importantly, which are the cities that have managed urban development along with the pace of business and economy to emerge as the truly developed cities with self-sustaining physical and social infrastructure that could be a magnet for big ticket investment? The answer to many such questions is the state of Gujarat which has been among the first to focus on the urbanisation and the need to adopt the modern technology for managing the urban living.

As a matter of fact, it is not one or two cities but multiple cities of Gujarat like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat among others that have the smart quotient in its DNA itself. This has made the s’tate a symbol of development model worth emulating. It was hence, not surprising when Legatum Institute’s Global Prosperity Index 2012 recognised Gujarat as the highest-scoring among all states of India on matters of social capital. The state ranked 15th in the list of 142 nations worldwide and actually ranked higher than several developed nations.

Recently during his visit to the state, Indonesian acting Consulate General found Gujarat such a magnet that he expressed interest to sign Sister City Agreement. A proposal for the same is being made and seventeen clusters have been identified which are common between Gujarat and Indonesia.The real estate of the estate is hence, sensing a big time bonanza ahead.

In the economic growth story of Gujarat, figures describe the facts and those facts speak for themselves. Over the past decade, Gujarat has seen rapid economic growth and has often been described as the red hot economy. Driven by massive industrialisation and urbanisation, the state’s economy has sustained a growth momentum of double digit per year, which is above the Indian average of about 8.25 per cent.Further, Gujarat is one among the six Indian states to have maintained a 10 per cent plus growth rate in the period from 2004-12.

Vivek Sahasrabudhe, analystResearch & Real Estate Intelligence Service, JLL India, says, “With improved infrastructural facilities, many new manufacturers of automobiles, engineering and instruments have established themselves in the city and existing industries have been expanding their plants, especially on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in Sanand and Changodar. To support the manufacturing hubs, logistics activity has also been growing fast.“

The analysts in this part of the world maintain that the evolution of Gujarat as a vibrant economy has its genesis to the growth of the industrial sector in the state. Gujarat is the second-most industry-friendly state, according to a Planning Commission sponsored study.Gujarat’s land acquisition model ranked top in a commerce ministry-sponsored study. The state provides good infrastructure with regular power, excellent road and port networks. Gujarat also enacted a separate legal frameworkSpecial Investment Regions (SIR) Act in 2009 to develop specialised industrial zones in the state. The first SIR is being set up at Dholera, near Ahmedabad.

The share of the manufacturing sector in Gujarat’s economy rose from 22 per cent in 1993 to 28 per cent in 2013. Gujarat has also put an emphasis on developing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through policy initiatives that offer interest subsidies, venture capital assistance and quality certification. The government has also focused on emerging sectors (nanotechnology, biotechnology and non-conventional energy sources) and a cluster development method. Despite this success of industrialisation, the economy of Gujarat has significant agricultural contribution as well.Despite its semi-arid climate, Gujarat has been able to achieve average agricultural growth of over 9 per cent in the last 10 years compared to all-India average of 4 per cent.

The urban planners are hence, endorsing the Gujarat model of urban development to understand how the proposed new smart cities should be conceptualised. After all, Gujarat is poised to take over as India’s ITITeS destination pretty soon and the real estate that till very recently, was weighing options with the costbenefit analysis of developing ITITeS spaces, has suddenly gone over-board in terms of shifting focus on the technology spaces.

For instance, a few months back, a leading IT company launched a software development facility in Gujarat’s capital, Gandhinagar. A Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the campus will serve global customers across industry segments. Similarly, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, better known as GIFT that is under construction is being built on 986 acres with the purpose of providing high quality physical infrastructure (electricity, water, gas, district cooling, roads, telecoms and broadband), so that finance and tech firms can relocate their operations over there from IT hubs like Mumbai, Bangalore and Gurgaon. In terms of policies also, Gujarat has been a front runner in facilitating the rise and growth of technology. All this will definitely create more employment opportunities in the state.

Sahasrabudhe concludes, “Newly generated employment has looked at organised real estate to fulfil its housing needs as prominent developers have been offering small ticket size affordable dwellings on the outskirts of the city. Another growth driver relates to the fact that Gujarat is part of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which is an ambitious project aimed at developing industrial zones. Ahmedabad is anticipated to be an important link in this corridor. Thus, the city is expected to create more jobs, attract investments and ultimately generate greater housing needs. There will be no surprise if other cities in Gujarat follow Ahmedabad’s example in the coming years.“

Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Ahmedabad