AHMEDABAD: A study published by the Department of Political Science, Auburn University, US, has revealed that the city of Gandhinagar in Gujarat has a stagnated growth rate. The study identified several crucial aspects that have been restricting the city’s growth in the past and have continued to do so. As an example, the study mentions that the retail growth for the capital city of Gandhinagar has been sluggish to the extent that only 20 per cent of planned commercial areas have developed after nearly four decades.
Despite the fact that recently, Gandhinagar’s municipal limits were increased by a little over 149 square kilometres and turned the municipal corporation from having eight wards to having 11. One of the reasons the study stated was that it is one of the few Indian cities that are governed by multiple civic agencies. This often leads to obvious conflicts. The study further claims that restricted development, a tightly controlled land market and regulated prices resulted in artificial land scarcity, unrealistically high land prices and overall stagnation in city growth.
According to Shweta Byahut, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Auburn University, in 1997, over 7,500 lots (about 930 hectares) were vacant and had the capacity to accommodate an additional 56,500 residents. Of this, 15 per cent remained to be plotted, auctioned or allotted. She added that initially, Gandhinagar was planned to accommodate 1.5 lakh residents. However, in 1974, the target capacity for the year 2015 was increased to 3.5 lakh. “Given the slow city growth, the revised target population is unlikely to be achieved even by 2031,” claims Byahut.
In 1996, Byahut says in her study, seven villages were identified as nucleus villages for their potential growth as they were strategically close to highways and to Gandhinagar city, had village infrastructure and market demand. Between 2001 and 2011, while Gandhinagar’s city population increased by just 7,000, Gandhinagar Urban Area Development (GUDA) population outside the city increased by over 46,000. Thus, Gandhinagar’s growth could not even match the growth rate of its own peripheral areas, in terms of population and economic growth.