Last week, in an attempt to encourage industries to set up units in the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR), the Gujarat government offered land parcels at half their original price. Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant too pushed the idea of Dholera as the first “green city in the world”.
The Dholera Special Investment Region is one of the several greenfield cities that have been planned on the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). Located about 100 kilometres south-west of Ahmedabad, Dholera will be connected to the city by a six-lane Expressway with a metrorail running through its centre. A greenfield international airport is also being developed in the vicinity of the SIR which will unburden the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport of some of its traffic. Six of the 24 nodes identified on the DMIC are in Gujarat.
The government had set up the Gujarat Industrial Corridor Corporation (GICC), an SPV to oversee development on the DMIC, a decade ago when Narendra Modi was chief minister. The GICC was wound up recently following incorporation of the Dholera Industrial City Development Ltd (DIDCL) and most projects being overseen by the company transferred to the Mandal-Becharaji SIR Development Authority (MBSIRDA).
Gujarat has seven SIRs, all launched after the state government passed SIR Act in January 2009. But it has not been easy acquiring land from farmers for the SIRs. The Dholera SIR project has been in the pipeline for over a decade now. Several companies, including Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) and Universal Success Group operated by NRI businessman Prasoon Mukherjee, signed MOUs with the Gujarat government for various projects, including setting up of a Japanese city in the region. Nothing much moved till 2014. After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, projects worth over Rs 3000 crore to build basic infrastructure within the Dholera SIR was cleared.
At present, infrastructure development is happening within 22.5 square kilometres of the SIR Activation Area. Now officials say the project is gaining momentum.
The Dholera SIR is slated to be bigger than Singapore. It covers an estimated 920 square kilometers, encompassing 22 villages of Dholera taluka of Ahmedabad district and is strategically located between Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Bhavnagar.
The Dholera SIR entails development of total 9225 hectares of land up to 2040 and will employ an estimated 8 lakh persons and will house 20 lakh inhabitants. Phase-I of the project which entails developing basic infrastructure in 22.5 square kilometres of activation area will cost roughly Rs 4,400 crore. In Phase-I, 52 per cent will be industrial and 28 per cent will be residential.