1. Statement of Problem:
The city Gurugram falls in the National Capital region (NCR) and is adjacent to the country (India’s) capital city – the New Delhi. A quick review of the capital city indicates that it is now over populated, facing constant problems with infrastructure availability, accessibility & its maintenance, and as a result people have been moving to Gurugram (previous name Gurgaon), this had been happening for the last 15 years. Other than this, the city also caters to significant percentage of migrant population, from rural India and from neighboring country Bangladesh. They come to the (this) city for improving their livelihood & satisfying economic need. They say that next to Mumbai (another metropolitan city in India) this city has ample job opportunities, particularly the menial seasonal ones, that suits their requirement & life style and time management for earning money and taking care of agriculture & village home/family. There has been a sudden rise in the migrated population that has contributed to increase in slums & slum like set ups & population of slum dwellers. City’s increasing population & constant demand on city infrastructure and amenities has become a major concern.
Existence of the city dates back to the mythological period of Mahabharata. And over the period the city had witnessed changes & transformations from ancient to medieval to modern history period. The city became prominent only around 1970’s, when one of the leading automobile manufacturing company, in the name of Maruti Suzuki India Limited established a manufacturing plant in Gurugram . Since then the city had been constantly expanding vertically as well as horizontally. The city today has more than 500 national/multi-national firms/companies, over the years, it has grown commercially big & wide. The city has given space to Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, PWC, AECOM, Google, Intel, Dell, Nokia, HSBC and many more. It is said by many that the companies created the new section of Gurugram. And, many new firms/companies are looking for base in the city, primarily to keep connected to the network of corporates.
The city is over populated due to influx from India’s Capital city – New Delhi, migrated population from nearby rural belts & from bordering country – Bangladesh. This apart, there is regular incoming flow of daily commuters from Delhi & nearby cities of workers & employees to these companies. As mentioned earlier, that Gurugram is an up-coming city. Heavy construction works going on in & around the city area, covering construction of high- rise residential complexes, commercial set ups, road works, drainage & sewerage improvement works, and many more. This results in additional inflow of labours – both men & women along with children & other family members. Majority of them stay back & become part of city dwellers & only very few returns to their respective villages.
The influx has resulted in over demand on city infrastructures & amenities. It is a growing/developing city, more it creates – more people move to this city and there is more demand on city facilities. The development equation is somewhat like this – development/improvement is happening, that invites more people, this increases demand for more infrastructure – this has now become a vicious circle. Refer Fig 1 below for schematic presentation. The influx results in over demand, no doubt, but neither the local governance is capable of balancing the demand-supply chain, nor the citizens develop an ownership feeling for the common property or feel responsible to take care of them. Particularly with the seasonal migrants, who move to the city for a very short period, but the city infrastructure & amenities also have to cater to their demands. Since the city has a good percentage of this seasonal population, it is high time that the government needs to plan citizen friendly provisions for them as well.
Fig 1: Schematic presentation of Development – Influx – Demand
2. Key Challenges in Sustaining City Development Works (present context):
a. Coordination between departments is lacking. There is no or very little coordination between departments. This extends the construction work period and delays its completion. For instance, road works gets completed, then people from telephone department come & lay cables, digging work takes up again, the work gets stretched.
b. Adherence to safety rules are not strictly followed. There is often slackness & neglect vis a vis following safety rules at construction sites. As a matter of fact, accidents & court cases delay the works.
c. Big cities, particularly developing cities have high percentage of migrated population, and majority work as construction labours, they keep moving to & fro, to city & their village, this often creates labor scarcity, impacting upon the construction works.
d. Migrated population as construction workers often do not go back to villages and start living in urban slums, urban slum in the city have increased drastically over the years.
e. With the ever-growing increase in city population, the demand on water, electricity & other city provisions continue to increase. Making it difficult the pave the balance between demand & service delivery.
f. People from rural India, who have travelled to city for want of work, to save money live in dingy slums, congested rooms, having bare minimum infrastructure, they do not look for improvement in provision, firstly they lack the awareness on better living conditions, good health & sanitation measures, and also their priority is more often to save money & take back to village for freeing the land from mortgage, contribute in family marriage, agriculture activity, and many other reasons.
g. The city has unmanaged stray animals. Gurgaon city, particularly new Gurgaon came into existence on rural land, the area covers few small villages.
Many local households still maintain keeping domestic animals. Major part of the area being urbanized where no open fields left for grazing etc., the animals are left in the open. This often creates traffic congestion & lead to accidents.
3. The City Feature
Gurgaon city has clear demarcation between the old Gurgaon and the new. Old area is as congested as any other old city with high population density and ever growing demands for improved infrastructure, heavy inflow & outflow of traffic. And the new Gurgaon area (actually) former agricultural & wasteland, built primarily by private companies and/or builders, is also experiencing ever growing population & infrastructure demands. This part of Gurgaon though is infrastructurally much advanced, presenting skyscrapers, flyovers, expressway, metro rails, wider roads, big shopping malls, golf course, commercial complexes and many more technologically advanced infrastructures. Anyhow, both areas have traffic jams, stray animal problems, potholes, uncleared garbage, leaky pipes, hanging (congested) electric wires, electricity failures, water problems and beggars on streets & crossings and the ever-growing congestion problem.
As per the census data of 2011 Gurgaon population is 1.5 million, this is almost double of what it used to be (876,000) in 2001. Population composition of the city, particularly of the new Gurgaon area is two extremes. On one side there is the rich, well-educated urban professionals who work at the big companies, living in big houses/flats, who have awareness and know of what & how to demand for the right infrastructure, whereas the other extreme, oblivious of their rights for required infrastructures, living in slums with minimum level or no basic infrastructures. The city view often covers big houses adjacent to urban slums, home to villagers who used to own the land where Gurgaon now stands and migrants, who come to do blue-collar jobs. In March 2019, the city was named the most polluted city in the world, according to data released by IQ Air Visual and Greenpeace.
In the city Gurgaon, a keen observer witnesses both the extreme good (positives) & the extreme bad (negatives). The urban system at certain level functions very effectively, technologically improved & systematic in nature, and at certain other levels there is total chaos, mis-management & failures. The issue is that the governance is improving but not catering to the entire population. Planning do take place but by the time it is implemented, the gap between development initiatives & population (growth) widens. And the problem cycle rewindes. One major problem in the city, like many other is sustainability of the developed/improved infrastructure – where having ‘smart citizens’ matters.
To make a city “SMART” apart from providing smart infrastructure, smart governance, smart environment – there have to be smart citizens, smartness in their approach to understand the smart development features, smart use of modern technologies & becoming responsible citizens to contribute in maintaining city’s smart outlook.
4. The Main Concern:
The Gurgaon city development is virtually skewed, where all city positivity’s are put on one side & on the other side all negativity’s – it shows no balance, sometimes city merits are visible & sometimes city demerits. The city can be considered developed only if housing structures with modern amenities, medical health care, market facilities & city transportation is considered. Else the service delivery considering other infrastructure/amenities are visibly dormant. Interestingly the private transport owners dominate the city transportation services, government transport services have been practically ineffective. At the housing front, the private builders have grabbed the city land and brought in modernized housing structure. At the health sector, all private hospital owners have established chains of health services in the city, and lastly the city has big name branded showrooms to small vendors all around the city, the city often is referred as city of malls. On the other side, the city lacks proper sewerage, though there are 3 STPs, of which two are run by private agencies under HUDA, any localities still don’t have sewerage connections. It is widely established that the city electricity service is worst hit. Water like electricity & sewerage does nor cost much, but the fact the city ground water level is scarce, many illegal bore wells have further affected the natural water availability, resulting in scarcity. Law & order in the city needs strict improvement, not effective at all. Private colonies who can afford keep private guards. Quality of roads at few locations are as bad as small undeveloped town, during every monsoon there is havoc, traffic jams & accidents the situation recently has slightly improved but needs more).
The underlined problem is ever increasing city population & growing demands for infrastructure, development efforts not covering the entire population, not so effective service delivery, unaware attitude & irresponsibility of the citizens. City needs smart citizens along with smart infrastructure & smart governance.
The fact remains that with all the lacunae, the city attracts people from all walks of life, from permanent settlers to the migrant population & the seasonal migrants. The entire city needs a slum development program. The developer colonies fend for themselves and manage with the RWA contributions.
Portray of Gurgaon by Citizens:
Gurgaon was built because the northern state of Haryana cut red tape in the land acquisition process in the 1970s, allowing private developers to buy land quickly and cheaply in an area that was close to the capital. “Once the developers had the land, they built all the infrastructure. Gurgaon grew so fast that the government would not have had the ability to meet its needs,” says Rajain.
The wastelands have gone, but the stray animals have stayed. The villagers whose lands were bought and then developed, were squeezed into ghettoes near the high rises of Gurgaon. Their hogs and livestock wander freely through the maze of skyscrapers and private fences. “The private colonies in Gurgaon are some of the best homes available in India,” says Lunia. “The other colonies, in Old Gurgaon, are the worst.”
“If a streetlamp breaks in Gurgaon,” says Manjit Rajain, another resident, “a private technician will come and fix it the next day. If the government were in charge, you could be waiting for a month or more.”
Shruti Rajagopalan, an economist who has studied the region says, “Even the poor in Gurgaon are willing to pay for public utilities. Poor women are willing to pay for clean water that is reliable. Same for electricity. The urban poor in India so desperately needs access to utilities, they don’t seem to care who provides them. And they are even willing to pay higher charges.”
Some of the former villagers have accused Gurgaon’s developers of pushing them out. “There are fights all the time. The villagers say their land was undervalued, the developers say the land wasn’t worth anything until they came and built it up,” said Rajain.
Source: Reference 
5. Developed Features in the City:
To present only a few, developed features in the city are – expressway, metro & rapid metro rail services, air-conditioned bus services, ola/uber taxi & auto services, wide roads, shopping malls, under-ground cable, well positioned street lights, public/community toilets, and many other developed / improved assets.
6. Features Need Attention:
On parallel grounds the city suffers incredibly in maintaining & sustaining the infrastructures. Corruption and desire for easy money in construction works is an added component contributing in failures to develop good infrastructures. There is no effective monitoring of quality performance, adding to the failure of good services.
Local administration of the city, the Gurgaon Municipal Corporation is relatively new, it came into existence in 2008, since then it had been planning & regulating its areas of functioning. Much before Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran – HSVP (or the Haryana Urban Development Authority – HUDA) came into existence in January 1977 under the Haryana Development Authority Act, 1977, and before this, Urban Estates Department (UED) established in 1962, used to look after the urban area development plans. The UED wasn’t effective in fulfilling its responsibilities under urban development programs. It was then thought off to create a single body to take up all development activities and effectively carry out service delivery system, this is how HUDA came into existence. And before being part of urban area, this was entirely village set up and governed by village panchayat (local village administration).
The local government in Gurgaon is new in existence, that needs institutional manpower improvements and has to go in for capacity building & skill improvement programs to run the local administration effectively. Repeated failure and poor performances have motivated and encouraged private hands participation in creating & maintaining infrastructure. Government is also encouraging more public-private partnership in creating provisions & effective service delivery. At community levels, the Residents Welfare Associations (RWA’s) are motivated & encouraged to manage & maintain (their) locality infrastructures. For instance, in the locality I live, the RWA has been super active in improving provisions. It had improved the colony roads, plantation, transformer repair, CCTV in the locality, footpath repair, street lights, regular garbage collection etc. from the maintenance money collected from residents.
7. Strategies for Improvement:
Gurgaon city lacked cohesive urban planning. The area was existing as village land and partly as village waste land. Even now when on major part of it, ‘new Gurgaon area’ has been built at certain locations village properties are visible – houses, small shops & other common properties. Transforming an area from village to city needed appropriate infrastructure development with effective planning & implementation and equally effective service delivery. The city also lacks in quantity & quality of manpower at city administration level – this needs significant improvement.
7.1 Need for Capacity Building:
These are few of the evidences that puts-forth efforts of the residents to maintain their locality. This does not underline that efforts of local administration are a complete failure. There are various other development initiatives being carried out by them. The underlined requirement is that to function effectively, there have to be increase in manpower at the administrative level and their capacity building in respective work areas, the major problem lies here – in manpower incapacity & knowledge base of the recruited officials – it is insufficient. Improvement in this will improve the infrastructure planning capacity of officials, its maintenance & its long-term sustainability.
7.2 Public Private Partnership (PPP):
PPP has been proved to be an effective model in creating and managing infrastructure in India, particularly in Gurgaon. There have been various PPP models like, build-operate- transfer (BOT), build & transfer (BT), build, operate & maintain (BOM) and so on. PPP model is being widely used in the city for infrastructure development, like, expressways, flyovers, road stretches, public toilets, water supply, electricity, transport system etc. and people are appreciating the quality of infrastructure & systematic approach in providing services.
7.3 Acceptance of hi-tech devices:
This is where the staffs of local administration need capacity building. The young recruits have picked up on usage of smart technology (and many are picking up), but the older generation is struggling in the area, many find it hard & get reluctant to pick the smart approach. Computers & smart phones are really ruling the world. Local administration in India, particularly of the smaller cities & villages lack the expertise & acceptance for high-tech devices. At the governance level acceptance of such devices is slow but public in general use smart apps widely, for booking taxi services, security services, easy mobility in metro rails using smart cards, water & electricity bills payments and in many other services.
7.4 Promoting Innovative Good Practices:
Crowd sourcing though not much in use, but it is being widely discussed & thought about. At few community levels the practice has begun and proved helpful. Also, under various ‘challenge fund’ programs, any attempt to improve the city ambience – infrastructurally, in service delivery and/or in smooth operation & maintenance, through innovative best practices by local government, NGOs, CBOs or any individual efforts are being duly rewarded, recognized and documented for further use.
7.5 Need for Effective Awareness & IEC effort:
The city population composition is very heterogenous in nature, heterogeneity not only by social and economic status but also in understanding, in awareness and being a responsible citizen – the city has the extremes. It is important to create awareness among the citizens to development a sense of ownership for national/community properties, attitude of supporting the government in its effective O&M roles.
7.6 Service Charge & Community Affordability:
Traditionally the thought is that government is solely responsible for providing all provisions to its citizens, and citizens are only the takers. Majority people in India shirk to the concept of ‘user charge’, still many others say “… since we are paying taxes, why pay additional amount – user charge?”, and many others don’t even understand the concept & need, they feel whatever is made available to them in the form of infrastructures/amenities, becomes their right to use & enjoy. Well, at present with increased population & infrastructure deficiency & failures in effective service delivery, contributions from citizens has become the need. The idea is to meet infrastructure expenditure on services through ‘user charge’. Studies & observations reveal that facilities have been running successfully with proper maintenance where user charges have been levied. Studies also reveal that (a certain class of) people do not mind paying but they want to be rest assured of good quality services by the government. Apart from paying for infrastructure/amenities like public toilets, parks, colony inner roads, colony street-lights, waste collection, street sweeping, etc. contributions from community are managing slum areas & provisions therein, as well.
8. The City after Development Initiatives:
The city – Gurgaon with lot many short comings, like over populated city, congestion, infrastructure shortage, stray animal menace, inadequate service delivery, manpower shortage at governance level and many more, is still carrying on development in significantly good speed, making desperate attempts to match the city population growth. Part of the city population has accepted whatever has been achieved and other part is struggling to counter the short comings. Following are few snapshots depicting city features.
Provision of infrastructures and amenities in the city though now has improved, much more is required to take place, it is still insufficient. On the other hand, much is happening following which city planners are suggesting to replicate Gurgaon development model. Haryana’s chief minister also suggested Gurgaon model to be replicated on allowing private companies to buy land directly from villagers and develop it as they choose in other parts of the state. And in 2011, Afghanistan sent a delegation of officials to Gurgaon to study its development model with the aim of replicating elements in Kabul, the Afghan capital.
9. Summary & Conclusions
Gurgaon the most happening city in the state of Haryana, in the northern belt of India. The city is in real sense – heterogenous in nature, and the heterogeneity has creeped into its development features as well. A major section of the city (earlier lying as wasteland & partly as rural agricultural land) was lately (early 90’s) utilized by the private builders to bring up modern livable city with improved & accessible infrastructure. The city at present is undergoing development works in all respect – from infrastructure to amenities to managing people influx to slum improvement programs to managing crisis in city, seasonal changes and many other. The city is extensively facing challenges demographically, on technological improvement & acceptance, socio-economically as well as environmentally and on financial support & back up. The pace of development is slow, but it is happening. At the same time planners, governance and citizens feel much more is needed to be done. The city along with ‘smart governance’ needs ‘smart citizens’ to work together for the city development.
|BOM||Build Operate Maintain|
|BOT||Build Operate Transfer|
|BT||Build & Transfer|
|CBOs||Community Based Organizations|
|UDA||Haryana Urban Development Authority|
|NCR||National Capital Region|
|O&M||Operation & Maintenance|
|PPP||Public Private Partnership|
|RWA||Resident Welfare Association|
|STP||Sewerage Treatment Plant|
|UED||Urban Estates Department|
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