In the 10th part of the ‘Know Your Smart City’ web series on the 98 cities that have been shortlisted to be equipped with modern facilities and innovative solutions over time, we look at the six cities Gujarat.
The city’s history dates back to the 11 th century. Solanki King Karandev established a city named Karnavati on the banks of the river Sabarmati. In the 15 th century, Ahmed Shah’s grandson, Mahmud Begada fortified the city with a 10-km long wall with 12 gates, the ruins of which can still be seen in the ‘old city’ or eastern banks of the Sabarmati. A few centuries later, Ahmedabad played a remarkable role in the country’s freedom struggle, with Mahatma Gandhi setting up two ashrams in the city. These ashrams became centres of intense nationalist activities in the 20 th century.
About 30 km from the state’s current capital Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad falls under seismic zone 3, in a scale of 2 to 5 (in order of increasing vulnerability to earthquakes).
Forbes had featured the city in the list of fastest growing cities in 2010, and as of 2014, Ahmedabad’s estimated gross domestic product was $119 billion. The city is home to some of the country’s premier institutes — the Indian Institute of Management, Mudra Institution of Communication, and the National Institute of Design, to name a few.
Dubbed the ‘Manchester of the East’, Ahmedabad’s tryst with textiles began in 1861, when Ranchhodlal Chhotalal founded the first Indian textile mill, the Ahmedabad Spinning and Weaving Company. This was followed by a series of textile mills like Calico Mills, Bagicha Mills and Arvind Mills. Housed in the city’s vicinity are some major automobile projects like the Tata Motors Nano project, and Ford India’s manufacturing plant; besides a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub. Two of the country’s biggest pharma majors, Cadila Healthcare and Torrent Pharmaceuticals, are headquartered in Ahmedabad, in addition to a few hundred contract manufacturers and SME players. Pharma special economic zones are also situated near the city.
Situated on the west banks of the Sabarmati river, Gandhinagar, the present capital of Gujarat, was set up when Bombay was bifurcated into Gujarat and Maharashtra in the 1960s.
The state capital was shifted from Ahmedabad initially to this city in 1970.
Two well-known Indian architects, H K Mewada, and P M Apte, designed Gandhinagar, the new capital named after Mahatma Gandhi. The foundation stone of the city was laid in 1965.
With a 54 per cent green cover, Gandhinagar can be easily termed the tree capital of the country. A planned city with well-laid roads, Gandhinagar has adopted cycle pedestrian ways as part of its traffic system. Basically, the system consists of a grid (1 km x 0.75 km) of motor roads and another grid (1 km x 0.75 km) of cycle pedestrian ways, superimposed on each other so that each residential community is served by motor roads on the periphery and cycle ways within it.
Spread into 30 sectors, Gandhinagar has a shopping and community centre, primary school, health centre, and government & private housing in each sector.
The state capital houses the State Legislative Assembly and the secretariat, apart from all important government departments. As such, the government is the largest employer in Gandhinagar. The city also houses a software technology park called the Infocity, as well as India’s first global financial hub, the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT). As for educational institutes, it was proposed to provide one primary school for 3,000-4,000 population and a secondary school for 10,000-12,000 population. Gandhinagar, is also home to the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gujarat National Law University, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar, National Institute of Fashion Technology, and Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, apart from an Indian Institute of Technology.
A Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) and Metro-railway project are planned to connect Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, about 30 km apart.
On the banks of the river Tapi, the ‘diamond’ and ‘textile’ city of Surat in South Gujarat owes its history to the old Hindu town of Suryapur, in 1500-1520 AD. The city was later colonised by the King from Sauvira, followed by Mughals and then British rulers from 1759 till the beginning of the 20th century.
Armed with a 6-km coastal belt along the Arabian Sea, the city emerged as an important trade centre and enjoyed prosperity through sea trade in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. A hub for diamond polishing and textiles, Surat became the most important trade link between India and many countries, and was at the height of prosperity till the rise of the Bombay port in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Emerging as one of the cleanest cities in India after being hit by a plague in the 1990s, Surat has been known by several other names like ‘the silk city’, ‘the diamond city’, and ‘the green city’. Apart from the British, the Dutch and the Portuguese also established their business centres in Surat, remnants of which are preserved in modern-day Surat. In the past, the city was a glorious port with ships from 84 countries anchored to its harbour. Today, it houses the prominent Hazira port and SEZ.
The Regional Transport office of Surat puts the vehicular data, as on January 2015, at 2.42 million vehicles, growing annually at 34.84 per cent. Every year, about 45,777 new vehicles are added to Surat’s roads.
In 2008, Surat was dubbed the wealthiest city of India in terms of per-capita income — at ~4,57,671 according to a study jointly conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research’s Rajesh Shukla and Future Capital Research’s Roopa Purushothaman.
Besides textile manufacturing, trade, diamond cutting and polishing industries, the city is also supported by intricate Zari works, chemical industries and the petrochemical and natural gas-based industries at Hazira, established by leading industry houses like ONGC, Reliance, Essar and Shell.
Surat accounts for 42 per cent of the world’s total rough diamond cutting and polishing, and 70 per cent of India’s total rough diamond cutting and polishing, as well as 40 per cent of the country’s total man-made fabric production.
Surat has attracted massive investments, of which a substantial portion is under implementation. According to CMIE 2002, the Surat City region has a proposed investment of about Rs 11,817 crore. In addition, projects worth Rs 2,022 crore are under implementation. Hazira port and SEZ are major focal points for growth.
Earlier known as Baroda, Vadodara is the third-largest city of Gujarat (after Ahmedabad and Surat. On the banks of the Vishwamitri river, 120 km southeast of Ahmedabad, the city is important for both its railway line and national highway connecting Delhi and Mumbai.
Until its inclusion into Gujarat, the ‘State of Baroda’ was the capital of the Gaekwad dynasty of the Marathas from the royal Lakshmi Vilas Palace in the city.
Popularly known as the cultural capital of Gujarat, Vadodara is also characterised by its citizens’ keen interest in cultural activities like plays, poetry recitals, and folk art.
The city’s educational foundation rests on over 20 public schools and over 100 private ones. Home to the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), the largest and only English-medium university of Gujarat, Vadodara is also an important industrial, cultural and educational hub of western India.
MSU, which boasts notable alumni like freedom fighter Vinoba Bhave, policy maker Sam Pitroda, former Gujarat cabinet minister Jaynarayan Vyas and Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, has 13 faculties and 17 residential hostels. The university caters to over 30,000 students.
The city also houses several institutions of national and regional importance, and its major industries include petrochemicals, engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, IT and foreign exchange services.
The first modern factory (Alembic Pharmaceuticals) was established in Vadodara in 1907 and companies like Sarabhai Chemicals and Jyoti came up subsequently in the 1940s.
In 1962, Vadodara witnessed a sudden spurt in industrial activity, with the establishment of Gujarat Refinery and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd at the nearby village of Koyali. Several factors like raw material availability, product demand, skilful mobilisation of human, financial and material resources by the government and private entrepreneurs have contributed to the city becoming one of India’s foremost industrial centres. The discovery of oil & gas in Ankleshwar and Bharuch led to the industrial development of Gujarat in a big way. The Vadodara region is the largest beneficiary in the process of this industrialisation.
In Vadodara, various large-scale industries like Gujarat State Fertilisers & Chemicals, Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited (now owned by Reliance Industries) and Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited (GACL) have come up in the vicinity of Gujarat Refinery, and all of them are dependent on it for their fuel and feedstock. Other large-scale public-sector units are Heavy Water Project, Gujarat Industries Power Company Ltd, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) & Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL).
In addition, a number of large-scale enterprises have come up in the private sector, such as Bombardier Transportation, a Canadian company manufacturing for Delhi Metro from its site in Savli, along with other manufacturing companies like Alstom, Areva, Mahindra, Apollo, Thermax and Siemens.
Founded by Thakorji Vibhaji in 1610, Rajkot saw deputy subedar Masum Khan of Sorath regiment defeating the former in 1720 and changing its name to Masumabad. Vibhaji’s son Meramanji later defeated Masum Khan in 1732 and renamed the city as Rajkot. The former capital of the then state of Saurashtra till 1956, Rajkot played a prominent role in the freedom struggle, with Mahatma Gandhi, an alumnus of the Rajkot-based Alfred High School, visiting the city in 1925.
The Quit India Movement of 1942 contributed to Rajkot’s rise in freedom struggle from the Saurashtra region. According to data from the Regional Transport office of Rajkot, the city had 1.08 million vehicles as of 2013-14.
Known in the past five decades for engineering skills, the city has four GIDC and over 5,000 small, medium and large-scale units. Supplying to several passenger and commercial vehicle majors for two decades, Rajkot almost enjoys monopoly, with a 60 per cent share in auto components manufacturing, apart from significant diesel pump production. The industry also consists of submersible pumps, plastics, kitchenware items among others, with names like Atul Auto, Rajoo Engineering, Balaji Wafers, Jyoti CNC, Captain Tractors, Field Marshal Group and Amul Industry based out of Rajkot. The city is also known for its gold jewellery crafting, apart from imitation jewellery manufacturing.
The city has one university (Saurashtra University), an ITI, a medical college, and polytechnic. Rajkot is home to Rajkumar College, also known RKC, one of the oldest schools of India.
A small city across an area of 14 sq km, Dahod (also known as Dohad, meaning two boundaries, for its proximity with borders of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh), has both historical and contemporary significance. Though it came into being as a city in October 1997, as a result of the division of the Panchmahal district, Dahod is the birthplace of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The Mughal ruler was born in the Fort of Dahod in the 17 th century, and is said to have ordered his ministers to favour this town, his birthplace.
Already dubbed a model town in Gujarat, the city is well connected by rail and road with all major cities of Gujarat, besides Mumbai, Delhi, Bhopal, Indore, Amritsar and Jaipur, among others.
For Gujarat, Dahod holds prominence in terms of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), which earns the highest turnover among the state’s APMCs in vegetables, at Rs 510 crore, and the second-highest in grain and oilseeds, at Rs 110 crore. Besides, the city has two GIDC estates, with over 40 functional units set up at an investment of Rs 30.50 crore.
Conventionally, though, the people of Dahod are primarily dependent on rainwater for cultivation, as irrigation potential is still very limited. It receives 1000 mm to 1,150 mm of rainfall during a year.
Besides, the city also has a large tribal belt, and no major industry has come up in the area so far. According to District Industries Centre (DIC), about 2,440 small-scale units have been registered till 2011. Agro, wooden, handicraft paper & paper products, chemical, rubber and mineral-based industries are there in Dahod, providing employment to over 5,000 people.
The number of vehicles on Dahod’s roads include 15,000 two-wheeler and over 1,000 four-wheelers.