Indore, once known as ‘shab-e-Malwa’, is trying to keep pace with rapid urbanisation
Having served as the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh for long, Indore has always aspired to join the league of India’s big cities. Indore, the largest city of Madhya Pradesh by population, contributed about US$ 14 billion to the State economy in 2011. Manufacturing of automobiles and pharmaceuticals, retail, textile trading and real estate form the major economic activity of the City. The IT sector also has a prominent presence.
Proximity to the Gujarat-Mumbai grid has been especially advantageous for the development of Indore as the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. Even as far back as the 16th century, the City was established as a trading centre between the Deccan and Delhi. Indore is thus indisputably the financial capital of the State. India’s third oldest stock exchange, the Madhya Pradesh Stock Exchange, is also located here. The city is further known as an important educational hub in Central India and it is the only Indian city to have both an Indian Institute of Technology and an Indian Institute of Management.
Housing and real estate
Indore Development Authority (IDA) plans for both residential and commercial developments along the Super Corridor, a 12 km stretch from the Airport to Vijay Square in Central Indore. Developers have shown keen interest in developing multi-storeyed
residential structures, plots, row houses and villas in this area.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan focuses on making the city slum-free and also on the need for building low housing units for the immigrant labour population. The State of Madhya Pradesh joined the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) to implement housing for poor in various slum areas of the cities. The pilot phase has already been started in Indore.
In 2013, in its efforts to reduce the cost of affordable housing plots, the IDA board further lowered the supervision charges for the construction of 302 ongoing flats and houses for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and 434 flats and houses for Lower Income Groups (LIG). Aranya, located 6 kms from Indore, meanwhile is a noteworthy example of community housing as it is set to ultimately accommodate a total population of 60,000 in 6500 dwelling units. The housing caters to various income groups and ensures that septic tanks, electricity and water facilities are made available to all.
Indore has been successful in providing an exceptional local transport network that operates using a public-private partnership model. The main public transport operator is the Indore City Transport Service Corporation Ltd (ICTSL), which is the largest compressed natural gas (CNG)– powered bus service operator in Central India.
The buses that are part of Indore BRTS are GPS enabled. LED monitors displaying the arrival timings of the buses and passenger information are provided. It aids commuters with simplified navigation. A ‘hub-and-spoke model’ is deployed to schedule routes for all passengers including students and office-goers. Such features have catapulted Indore to the top league of cities. The City is being considered as one among those with the best city bus services in the world along with Bogota. ICTSL also operates a taxi-cab service called ‘Metro Taxi’ that provides services not only within the city but also to commuters travelling to Bhopal, Ujjain and other parts of Malwa.
Indore is well linked to the rest of the state and the country through national and state highways. The Agra-Mumbai National Highway (NH-3) and NH- 86 (to Dewas in the west and Betul to the North), pass through Indore. It is further connected to Khandwa Town by the Khandwa Toll Road, towards south of the city and to Ujjain in the north-west.
In terms of rail services, Indore is one of the few places in India that offers both broad gauge and metre gauge railway tracks. Indore lies on the longest gauge network between Jaipur and Purna, and is part of the Western Railway network. Indore is directly connected by rail to all major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad.
Indore’s ‘Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport’ offers connectivity to Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jabalpur, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Raipur.
Industrial and economic development
Indore’s economy is expanding rapidly owing to factors such as good investment climate, favourable industrial policy, presence of renowned educational centres and improved infrastructure facilities. The textile industry is one of the oldest businesses to have been established in the region. Several textile mills are still operational in the city. Indore is a preferred trade centre for the wholesale garments trade. Metal and alloy industries are traditional economy drivers of Indore. With the proliferation of the automotive and auto components industry, these metal related sectors have flourished.
Major industrial estates can be found around the city. Pithampur is a well-known industrial hub. It is home to several large and small automobile and auto-component companies. Not surprisingly, the city has come to be known as the ‘Detroit of India’. Indore’s automobile sector is a very significant contributor to its economy.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing companies too are present in significant numbers in Pithampur. More recently, the city has witnessed an expansion of the Information Technology sector with numerous IT companies being established here. An electronics complex has also been developed. It houses some of the top IT companies of the nation. Use of IT in e-governance has also been actively encouraged by the government. Of late, Indore is also known for hosting for the Global Investors’ Summit, a regular event, which is attended by potential investors from across the world, including those from the USA, Singapore, Japan, UK and Germany.
Culture and tourism
Indore, home to people from various other Indian states, represents a truly diverse culture. It is known especially for the delicacies it offers that ranges from the famous ‘namkeens’ to mouthwatering sweets. Several temples and holy sites are located in the city. These include the Indreshwar Temple, the Khajrana Ganesh Temple, the Annapurna Temple and the Kanch Mandir. Popular hot-spots near the city include Mandavgad, Sitala Mata Falls, Choral Falls and Maheshwar which are frequented by tourists and locals alike.
The city, in spite of its various attractions, faces challenges such as high population density which has caused problems of land-availability and congestion. Meanwhile, water infrastructure facilities require further development since water supply is limited and a sizable part of the population does not have access to appropriate sewerage network. Further, narrow roads combined with increasing vehicular ownership have led to traffic management issues and increased accident rates. The lack of adequate green cover has further intensified the pollution levels, with suspended particulate matter in the air being more than the specified threshold levels by Indian standards. To tackle such issues, the Indore Municipal Corporation has implemented various reform measures both at the city and the state levels, to ensure that the city maintains its dynamic growth momentum.