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Naya Raipur: Creating a new capital
Ravi Teja Sharma
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March 31, 2007

People at the Naya Raipur Development Authority are getting ready to create a whole new city from scratch. The new state of Chhattisgarh is getting a brand new capital city called Naya Raipur.

It's hard to believe but for the last six years since its creation, the state's Secretariat has been running from an old hospital building and its Vidhan Sabha is housed in a central government research centre.

Many of us would have heard about the plan for Naya Raipur, which has been around since 2002 but has never really taken off due to political compulsions. Change in governments at the centre and in the state kept the idea shelved till recently.

Now, as things stand, it seems like work should begin soon. And even as you read our report on the new city, the new master plan for Naya Raipur is being released in Chhattisgarh.

The Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA) has a total of 8,000 hectares to play with. There are about 22,000 hectares being left as buffer and green zone. The new city is about 20 kilometres from Raipur and just six kilometres from the airport.

In fact, the new city is in between two national highways -- NH6 and NH 43, and the new city and the old one are separated by the airport.

The Chhattisgarh government could have tried to revive Raipur city itself but cleaning up the mess of bad roads, creaking infrastructure, narrow streets and a huge sewage problem would have been some task.

Also, Raipur does not have the environment to attract new knowledge-based and specialised industries like IT and biotech.

The urban design of the new city will incorporate the best of international cities as well as traditional Chhattisgarh culture. The city will be immaculately planned, says Joy Oommen, chairman of NRDA.

The design will be a grid pattern city plan. One of the major influences was Kuala Lumpur's new capital complex at Putrajaya. On the lines of Putrajaya, many water bodies have been planned at Naya Raipur. The main boulevard leading to the capital complex will be inspired by similar areas in Washington and Brazilia.

The design of the city though will not overlook Chhattisgarh culture. Local architecture will be encouraged and one can expect to see subtle elements in design like the Bastar arches and traditional tribal motifs on boundary walls and buildings.

The road designers for the new city are Sheladia, an American company. In trying to improve its public transportation, Delhi is now thinking of setting up dedicated bus lanes across the city, but the Naya Raipur road plan integrates special bus lanes from inception, and the roads will be either 60 or 100 metres in width.

Besides concentrating on road and city designs, 300 hectares are being developed for the capital complex and the new Vidhan Sabha.

Naya Raipur will get a world-class convention centre, a five-star hotel, an IT SEZ, a gems and jewellery SEZ, a theme residential township with a golf course, an amusement park, super speciality hospitals, commercial office space, museum, art galleries, entertainment parks, botanical garden, a law university, an education hub, a 60,000-seater brand new cricket stadium, a cultural centre, malls, sports complex, a logistics hub with warehousing, a transport hub and lots of other housing within 10-15 large townships and some smaller ones too.

A number of development would also happen around the large man-made water bodies (huge 30-50 hectare water bodies). In the future we could also see a night safari at Naya Raipur.

There will be a special scheme for government employees where they can own houses in the city. They will get special loans and will get higher HRA to service the loans.

S S Bajaj, CEO of NRDA, says that many projects will be done with public-private partnership and work should start very soon, after the master plan is released.

Oommen also reveals that many major national developers have bid for new SEZs here as well as for the convention centre and five-star hotel.

NRDA has got an initial grant of Rs 650 crore (Rs 6.50 billion) from the state government, Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) from the centre (under the 12th finance commission). It is also taking a Rs 550 crore (Rs 5.50 billion) loan from HUDCO mainly for land acquisition and infrastructure development. For this, NRDA will be mortgaging land to HUDCO.

The city will be connected to Raipur with an expressway. Since the new city is being built within close proximity to the airport, the plan has taken care of future airport expansion plans as well.

The airport zone has lots of land left untouched for future expansion. In fact, the logistics hub being planned at Naya Raipur will be close to the airport for quick access.

A dedicated rail-cum-bus hub will streamline connectivity issues for the city. "We are developing a bus-based mass transport system with dedicated bus lanes across the city. There will also be a new rail connection as well as an expressway between Raipur and Naya Raipur," informs Oommen.

Locals in Raipur though are not too enthused by the plan, which many people believe might just end up like Gandhinagar (which just houses everything for the government). Alok Mahawar, consultant and building engineer who stays in Raipur, feels the new city might have a shortage of water.

"For one, the groundwater level in that area is already low and the NRDA is planning to get water from the Gangarel dam on the Mahanadi river, which is 70 kilometres from the new city. Another issue might be the distance of the new city from the railhead which is in Raipur," he says.

In the long-run though, the non-polluting knowledge based industries which will be setup in the new city should help Raipur as well with more employment.

Raipur will also get much needed recreation and entertainment options, which it completely lacks today.

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