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Old Posted Jan 22, 2017, 3:20 PM
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BolliBatlu BolliBatlu is offline
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What I think is Kochin, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada-Amaravati-Guntur will be next growth drivers of South India. All these cities are having a healthy population of around 20 lakhs now and they can grow healthily to a population of around 40 lakhs.

In Karnataka, it will be Mangalore-Udupi, Hubli-Dharwad-Belgaum region. (We are encouraging new investments in Hubballi-Dharwad-Belagavi belt and Mangaluru-Udupi belt. I doubt this because guaranteeing 24 hour power supply to a single city and incessant power cuts in other cities is the main reason for skewed & non-equitable development of Karnataka and also many other states. There is huge concentration of population around a single city but a city like Mangaluru with potential to accommodate more population more sustainably has less population. Though even the central government has plan to encourage these belts of the state.) Even Bellary-Hospet region may produce surprises if global demand for steel picks up to result in four metropolitan regions at four parts of Karnataka. (Gulbarga, Vijayapura, Davanagere all are other candidates though map attached below shows Hassan at intersection of highways.) That is, at least four cities (or city clusters or city belts) generating jobs for Karnataka instead of a single city. I want these cities along with others to even out growth and population within Karnataka so that Karnataka will have long term environmental and economical benefits instead of short sighted big plans of focusing on development around a single city for immediate benefits compromising on the ecological & economical needs of rest of Karnataka. Mangaluru inspite of having airport with good national & international traffic, high lietracy rate has only population of around 6 lakhs and it has already constructed water reservoir to take care of 20 lakhs population, and so can readily reach current population level of Hubli-Dharwad (which is 10 lakhs) if enough jobs are generated for that much population (that should be around one lakh jobs) by minimum investment on infrastrucutre like improvent of roads and airport runway expansion. Hubli-Dharwad can be easily promoted as an Automobile Knowledge, Innovation, Services and Production Hub with 'Automobile University' or 'Indian Institute of Automobiles' and colleges, IT, BPO and factories and other jobs related to this domain. (Currently best education in Automobile Engineering in Karnataka is provided by a college in Hassan where there is no automobile industry!) Similarly Belgaum as an Aerospace Hub and Mangalore as a Marine Hub. Automobile and Aersopace are complementary industries to each other and hence both Hubli-Dharwad and Belgaum can grow helping each other & without competing with each other in different sectors. I am specifying sector or domain as smaller cities can not have sustainable job prospectus in every sector though each city need more than one sector to avoid sector-specific economic risks and if they attempt every sector there will be brain drain to bigger cities seeking better opportunities turning these cities as just training centres. Focusing on two or threes sectors can help these cities by generating enough jobs in those particular sectors. For example Mangalore-Udupi can have sectors like Marine, Hydrocarbon, Education or Tourism or Finance. Mangalore is also suitable for evolving cutting edge technology of subsea or underwater datacenters as it is protected well and far way from reach of hostile countries. Hubli-Dharwad-Belgaum with Karwar can develop defense productors for Army, Airforce & Navy as a second sector and education as a third sector. So starting with two or three sectors I think each city (or city belts) of Karnataka ultimately can reach population around 30-40 lakhs sustainably and expand themselves to more sectors later. These cities should also be developed as a cosmopolitan city like existing mega cities by attracting talent not only from all over India but also from existing mega cities. On big advantage side, all residents of Karnataka will have a big city with all facilities in their vicinity with maximum travel time of around 3 hours so that they can complete visit to city for whatever reason in a single day. So, what is required for Karnataka is politicians of the state who are now proudly developing a single city 'for Karnataka' have to become more broadminded & proud to say that we have started developing Mangaluru for Karnataka, Hubbali for Karnataka, Belagavi for Karnataka, Ballari for Karnataka. I don't have any issue if they become more broadminded and start to say that we are developing all these cities for India.

Going back to South India, for example, why I think Kochin growth will be environtmentally more sustainable is because the city has enough water resources. The state (Kerala) need not destroy westernghats to bring water to Kochin from some other place or the state need not put up a thermal plant of GWs in some other region to power water from a lower altitude area to a higher altitude region. Growth of a city always mean converting greenfield areas to industries and townships, there is always negative impact on environment, but in case of Kochin environment impact is local (moreover Kochin is growing vertically), it can grow without hurting environment of any other region of the state (examples are given at the begining of this paragraph). And it can smartly plan for reducing local environmental impact as it has good backwater stretch to support ecofriendly waterways for transportation, for its food (enough water is available to support agriculture around the city itself) and most of raw material needs in the vicinity itself. In summary, in comparison to a big metropolitan city, Kochin can grow to a population of 40 lakhs in an inclusive sustainable way with villages surrounding it and the state. And 40 lakh population is more than good enough to have economically sustainable social infrastructures like themeparks, disneyland etc and other infrastructures like airport if economic productivity of people are high and of course, Kochin has good number of native people working outside & abroad and they definitely influence migrants to prosperty. In the next step Kerala may have to develop one or two more big cities of 40 lakhs for the amount of its population say Thiruvanathapuram and Kozhikode.

What is important is India as a whole to grow in a sustainable inclusive way not a limited number of overgrown cities making disastrous impact on other regions. Once upon a time, before colonization, every village of India was self sustainble and India was number one economy of the world till colonization with its GDP being continuously above 30% of GDP of the world for more than thousand and five hundred years. But in modern times, with changed technolgy & lifestyle we need to find out new ways of making India sustainable by developing sustainable cities & villages supporting each other rather than mega metro cities isolated or remotely connected to villages.

Population distribution across country should be smartly planned for environment & economical sustainability of overall country. Some of criteria for population (including floating population) distribution across cities of country as per my notion are
  • City has huge hinterland of resources like water, electricity and transportation cost of these supplies is minimum & will not damage environment of the other region. Resources includes land based, marine based and imports. (Currently stress is on green building to localize pollution remedy as much as possible including liquid waste management, wind or solar electricity generation, etc. What we need is a city which produces all types of pollution also consumes all pollutions produced by it itself without making villages around it dumping yard of waste or remote villages suffer from pollution of thermal plants. Ideally a city should feel the pollution it is causing itself and take remedy action within itself without affecting any other village or city.)(It is good that Standards for Smart Cities stresses on monitoring renewable energy by providing some indicators.)
  • Enough farmland around city to reduce transportation cost of vegetables and grains consumed by city. City can be shaped in such a way to reduce this & overall transportation cost further. Agriculture stress should be more on local consumption not export oriented stuff like floriculture in case of less availability of irrigated farmland around city.
  • City can produce most of FMCG items locally for reducing transportation costs & raw materials for these products are also available in the vicinity of the city. (FMCG is common production sector for every city but smaller cities can have only two or three specialization sectors for the reason I mentioned already)
  • City has less number of threats & risks and hence risk mitigation cost, climate change adaptation & resilience cost and disaster management & recovery cost are less.
  • Big cities (less than 50 lakhs) with airports, High Speed Railway stations are distributed evenly across country so that every person staying in every remote corner of country can avail these facility with minimum travel even if at low speed.
  • Cities with well developed infrastructures like airport, literacy and per capita income can grow faster and spread economical prosperity to incoming migrant population faster.
  • Less population on desert and fertile lands (means less conversion of fertile land for urbanization).
Many of the criteria mentioned above may contradict each other. So what we have to achieve is mathematically optimized result. And I know that there are many more criteria which I have missed. I have neglected some criteria like areas where nothing can be grown around but cities are there. More research has to be done on this. This can give long term environmental & economical benefits instead of wasting money & effort on short term benefits. What we need is a integrated transportation, water, energy, food, industry, population management plan for entire country which will give optimized sustainable environmental and economical results.

One of the way to place metro cities is near intersection of north-south and east-west highways, highways being bypassing these cities. But this is not practical as city placement has to be adjusted with existing cities. (Don't be surprised if this condition is already satisfied as these highways are designed to pass through larger cities but some realignment may be needed.) Next, decide population of a city based on criteria mentioned above. This will make balanced distribution of population across cities of India. As I have already stated any person should be able to travel to a big city nearby with all facilities by travelling maximum of 3 hours finish his works and return back to his village or small city. For example, a person can finish meeting with health experts in a day if needed in spite of telemedicine or a patient can be admitted to a hightech superspeciality hospital by travelling for maximum of 3 hours. That means uniform distribution of big cities (of 40 lakhs population) separated by 6 hours journeys across India. Also, greenery of villages surrounding a city should be able to produce enough oxygen for the city hoping villages will not produce pollutions like smoke. And it can increase family bond by allowing people of rural origin working in city to visit their village during every weekend assuming that the city employs mostly people from surrounding region.

The central government can help in balanced growth of country by implementing a similar scheme like it is doing for improving air connectivity of tier-II/III cities. It can impose additional cess on overpopulated mega cities in domains like IT/BT and use this money to incentivize IT/BT in tier-II/III cities. This is one of ways the central government can control population distribution and job opportunities across India smartly. Better Dearness Allowance is one of reason encouraging people move to metro cities. And even supplying continuous electricity to metro cities at the cost of power cuts on other cities has to be reversed to have a balanced population distribution and to reduce the environmental effect of skewed economical growth in the states suffering from power shortages. And no more new central institutes & government IT facilities should be opened in current metro cities which already have enough of them. Even people should be allowed to apply for bigger houses (more than 60 sqm) under affordable housing scheme in non-mega metro cities to lure more people to smaller cities. Smaller cities with capability can be allowed to grow to a city of size 30 lakhs with incentives and after crossing this population they can be disincentivized. Once they cross 40 lakhs additional cess can be imposed on city to limit further growth and same money could be used for developing other cities waiting to grow. But a few cities even after crossing 40 lakhs may need incentives in specific areas like air connectivity until people become economically productive to sustain these services.

High Speed trains connectivity of other cities to 'National/International Hub Airports or Airline Hubs' leads to seamless multi-modal high speed transport and helps in multi-mode single ticket and checked luggage tagged to the final destination travels. We may coin the term like 'highspeed transit oriented development' as more population will be concentrated around 'multimode highspeed hubs'.

And I support 'walk to work' concept against 'stay in one city and work in another city' concept enabled by highspeed or bullet trains or hyperloop though I support small/big cities connected to airport hubs of bigger cities through highspeed rail network for other long distance travel purposes wherever highspeed rail is feasible. I support multimode transportation (transit oriented development) for both local and distance travel. Local transortation should be multimode of train, bus, autorikshaws, taxis and bicycles. Though I am not sure to what an extent local transportation like commuter train or metrorail should be integrated to highspeed transportation network like of airport or bullet trains.

My wish is a city should not just be a production place (where innovative technology invented somewhere else) but knowledge & innovation place also. So at least in one or two sectors/domains a city should have everything unlike silicon valley model of innovation in that city and production somewhere else. Let me also explain the 'innovation' in smart city context as per my understanding so to make it clear what I am talking about here. A smart city should be innovative not only in its governance & policies but also it should continuously innovate its infrastructures like economical infrastructure so to be in competition with other cities who have built their economical infrastructure in the same domain. A smart city should also have a 'Smart Innovation Plan' (or the country should have a general knowledgebase of innovations happening around the world. Each domain/section/field may have its own innovation center dedicated to study innovations around the world in that particular domain/section/field. For example, we already have many 'Educational Innovations Centers' but we need sophisticated 'Educational Informatics Centers' for more systematized studies and similarly 'Institutional Innovations Centers' & 'Institutional Informatics Centers'. I don't know how much 'Data Analysis' each city is going to do on global data. I don't know whether India is going to have "Urban Informatics Centers' or combined 'Urban-Rural Informatics Systems' addressing various needs like innovation, etc. No idea whether existing SMARTNET can be adapted for this.)(Many of smart cities in their vision statement have mentioned that they want to be innovative. But how they achieve that is not specified anywhere by them). A smart city should know what innovations are happening around the world in social, institutional & governance, economical, legal, physical infrastructures and adapt to it quickly to be a globally competitive city. For example a manufacturing city should be upto date with innovative production techniques to be economically viable though innovative techniques & products are discovered somewhere else. That is what smart city definition of 'innovation'. But what I am aiming is production, innovation in production process, innovation in products and every other kind of innovation is done within same city in its domain. What I wish is most of cities should be knowledge centre for products they manufacture. There may be a few cities which may not become knowledge center for many reasons for example in a high temperature region many of whitecolor professionals may not like to stay or there could be water shortage unable to support huge population for other things except for production. In other words what I am saying is as far as possible a city should be fulfledged knowledge city in its domains/sectors of strength. In addition, a city should also have capacity to come out with its own innovative methods in social, institutional and other infrastructures apart from monitoring and adapting innovations happening across the world.

Footnote: 40 lakhs population limit on a city and 6 hours distance between big cities, the numbers specified here are just magic numbers without any proof and exact value should be found by more research. But what I believe is there is a value (or multivalues depeding on regional criteria, we can call solutions as 'critical population masses' satisfying criteria mentioned above and have all facilties needed by population within 'critical distances'. And a city is not scalable beyond its 'critical population mass' without a chain effect on ecology of region and cities surrounding it.) for these numbers which will give optimized economically & ecologically sustainable result for the country. (I don't have any reason to say why distance is measured in hours. And more over mode of travel is also not defined. I can just say that in case of emergencies people should be able to avail best treatment available in a near by city as fast as possible but there should be enough rural space around city for agriculture to minimize agricultural product transportation pollution.) And instead of horizontal and vertical highways there could be other highway models enabling faster movement across India hence need more research on highway networking model also. Suppose if 60% of India's population should be in cities, how much of them should be in big cities and how much in small cities is also a research subject. Ultimatley it is the question of finding out whether there is 'cricial population mass' beyond which India is neither economically nor ecologically sustainable irrespective of import-export figures or the question is what is the scalability of India's total population. Even available extent of land may go down if sea level rises due to climate change. Should we get ready to build cities in ocean and space? Let us wait and find out how many of us will be cosmonauts and how many will be aquanauts. And which type of 'multimode transportation' will connect 'multimode townships'? It would be interesting to develop a combined economical & environmental model for India to check what happens as population grows. Once model is developed it may be possible to control it & distribute it properly.

New cities would be important in creating new India: PM Modi

I would prefer expansion of small cities instead of creating totally new cities as ghost cities or creating satellite cities for over congested metro cities for reasons mentioned above. Anyway below is a contradictory view. But I consider Amaravati as an extension of Vijayawada so that it satisfy my view.

PM's digital dream: Why Amravati should be the pilot smart city
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