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GIFT(ing) Smart City

The vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a hundred Smart Cities in the country will have its beginning in Gujarat. The GIFT City project in between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar is setting a benchmark for quality urban life

The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Ltd (GIFTL) was one of Modi’s pet projects when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The project has now become a model for the upcoming Smart City project. The Centre had recently taken GIFT City project as a benchmark to develop 100 Smart Cities pan India.

Demand for financial services in India has seen a tremendous transformation over the decades with the sector contributing significantly to the economy by employing over four million people and representing around five percent of the GDP. The estimated market capitalisation of over USD 200 billion offers distinct kinds of opportunities across several product markets.

“If India builds an international financial center, with suitable rules and regulations, the earnings out of financial sector exports will surpass that of IT,” feels Percy Mistry, former senior official in World Bank.

Given India’s continued economic growth, it is estimated that the financial sector will grow increasingly larger; with a prospect of 10 to 11 million jobs by 2020.

Why only Gujarat?

The state was seen as key competitive factor as Gujarat has an adequate employable pool and offers high potential for inward migration and has demonstrated successfully its forte of providing conducive business environment.

The project is emphasised on smart urban infrastructure highlighting water systems, power, ICT System, district cooling, domestic gas, waste management, fire-fighting, and utility tunnel. It has incorporated smart transport that included traffic management, parking, area traffic control, road condition system, real time travel response along with smart streets with digital signage and streetscape. Proactive urban governance, smart business environment, integrated residential development, retail and commercial development along with social infrastructure like school, college and club facilities only builds in the aspirations of this dream assignment.

The GIFT(ed) city

GIFT City is a Global Financial Hub, one of its kind in the country with state-of-the-art infrastructure for transacting various international and domestic services like banking, finance, insurance, information technology (IT) and information technology enabled service (ITES).

It is believed that the central business hub expects to generate five lakh direct and five lakh indirect jobs within its mammoth infrastructure. The project was conceptualised in February 2007 and the company GIFTCL was formed in June 2007. The GIFTCL has decided to develop the entire project in three phases.

The project has been planned as a financial Central Business District (CBD) between Ahmadabad and Gandhinagar as a green-field development.

Propelled by a competitive economy anchored on commerce and related industry, GIFT, envisaged as an Eco-City, is expected to serve as the vibrant hub of western India and as a habitat showcasing business oriented, environmentally-sensitive growth with equity. The project GIFT offers to be a test-bed to drive reforms and innovation in various fields including in delivery systems, local government, physical planning, infrastructure development, and environmental protection among others.

What GIFT Aspires

The super speciality project is seen to catalyse India’s largest financial services potential by offering world-class infrastructure to attract top talent in the country. The creation of one million direct and indirect jobs can be acquired in this up to 90 million square feet of real estate office and residential space. The project aspires a smart business environment through benchmark office, and high-rise district with landmark buildings.

Social Infrastructure

When a city is designed, it is required to provide a social infrastructure, to ensure quality social life to the city and its residents. The GIFT will avail optimum social infrastructure facilities through international exhibition complex, educational institutes, international and domestic schools, state-of-the-art hospital, training school, five star hotels and business club.

The specifications include 110 building: two landmark buildings (height- above 350 meter); 19 buildings (height- 150 mt to 300 mt); 73 buildings (height- 100 mt to 140 mt); two schools – international and domestic board; 214 bed hospitals; hotels (5000 rooms).
Leisure is also an important aspect for true living and GIFT ensures that through the Samruddhi Sarovar (Master Balancing Reservoir) which has food courts: restaurants, eateries, dining; gathering spaces for concerts and events, promenades, water sport activities, retail facilities, walkers paradise: jogging track, viewing points, light and sound show, fountains, and water shows.

An interesting component of the city would be the living bridge of a length of 600 meter; having lanes of divided carriageway with vertical segregation of public transport and pedestrian walkway.

The retail cum entertainment hubs would have high quality entertainment malls and a large river front entertainment development with over 60 percent of the green space.

Integrated residential

A place to reside is the basic component for any smart city project, to acquire necessary green design, numerical dimensions and safety measure must be well planned.

GIFT for housing development ensures a well-planned residential housing that has spatial benefits like walk-to-work and an overall connectivity through external like MRTS/BRTS/roads, where the Public-Private model Split is 90:10. Basic infrastructure like uninterrupted and highly reliable power supply (99.999%), next generation water and waste management, and district cooling is also an added feature.

Technology wise the city promises Broadband FTTP, WiFi/Wimax, Shared IT Services and Global Connectivity. In terms of scale and sheer physical scope, GIFT is being designed to be at or above par with presently acknowledged globally benchmarked International Financial Centers (IFCs strategic location). GIFT integrated infrastructure is platform for better diversity, the technology ensures energy conservation and all the utilities/services are coordinated through single agency.

Trigger For Development

GIFT a much needed trigger for development and not a stand-alone real estate. The city would have about 3,000 acres earmarked for GIFT expansion zone. There would be integrated townships to be developed in surrounding development zone of 100 square kilometres.

The city would be regulated by a dedicated Area Development Authority ensuring singular control for coherent and sustainable development. There will be a single window clearance through GIFT Urban Development Authority (GIFTUDA)­­–constituted for well planned urban development of the area. The GIFT Notified Committee will be constituted for the better management at city level.

Intelligent Transport

Mobility is one the crucial components for developing and accommodating public spaces for the booming populace. GIFT would have a high share of public transport and a conflict free traffic movement with transit oriented development and aim for a zero-accident city. There will be multi level car parking along arterial roads, pedestrians oriented internal movement; grid of six external gateways from NH-8 and state highway (Connecting to various areas of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar); Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS); Metro Rail Transport System (MRTS); and a Multi Modal Transport Hub.

Apart from this, there will be interactive road maps and road condition system like automatic vehicle location and tracking, real time travel response parking management for a hassle free mobility in the city.

Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) is an innovative technology for intelligent mobility as an automatic personal transit service will be there in the city where an intelligent vehicle will be made available on demand 24×7. It will have a dedicated guide-way network and a non-stop travel direct to destination.

Quality water and cooling

There will be availability of quality water which can be drunk from any tap because of the storage of surface run-off and rain water. District cooling system will be a centralised cooling method where the total cooling load – 2,70,000 TR and its efficiency through economies of scale would reduces energy and maintenance costs. This method would improve air quality and temperature control while reducing noise and vibration. GIFT does not require conventional AC system as there will be a monitoring District Cooling Plant System through which there will be simulation of cooling/energy requirements.

Solid Waste Management

The city will be smart through its smart processing or managing the impending waste influx day by day. GIFT’s plan on SWM is to maximise resource recovery with minimal emissions. The processes involve minimise impact on environment, human intervention, space requirement, and impact on health.

The city will aim to no waste visibility through automatic collection, transportation and segregation system. The waste will be thrown into a disposal chute through a computer controlled access. The waste is then sucked through pipes at a speed of 90 km/hr and treated through plasma gasification. E-Waste; Bio-medical, hazardous waste handling system will be through Monitoring Central Waste Handling Facility. There will be monitoring of the residual waste handling, rejects and a safety management emergency response for these harmful substances in garbage. A City Command Center would take critical live feeds from all Control Centers and enforce centers to take remedial actions in case of emergency.

State-of-the-Art fire detection system

It is very crucial for every city to acquire an adequate provision in the building for quenching of fire.

GIFT has a provision of adequate logistics and fire fighting system at city level conducive to high-rise building. There will be adequate and effective evacuation system.

Tech advanced city

The project will provide a technologically advanced financial services gateway to national and global financial markets and create an “integrated city” blueprint, global customers with an immediate emergency response system.

Disaster/Crisis Management

In regards with disaster preparedness, the hi-tech city will enable creation of GIS platform for monitoring of services in case of natural calamities or disasters with a wide range of connectivity.

Paving implementation

The city that was earlier governed by state government will now be directly monitored by the central government as a project of national importance. All major decisions will be taken after consultation with the Union Urban Development Department (UDD) so that the project can be completed without hassles. According to a highly placed source in Urban Development Department: “The UDD decided to take Gift City as a model for Smart City last month. A committee comprising officials of UDD and Planning Commission frequently visited Ahmadabad to study the project and technology used to develop it.”

The Gujarat government has earmarked 886 acres of land for the GIFT project, of which 673 acres is in possession of GIFTL. Also, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth Rs 11,700 crore was signed during Vibrant Gujarat Global Investment Summit- 2011 with seven agencies. However, GIFTCL has reworked the costs and have brought it down to Rs 10,000 crore.

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