Assessment of Vadodara City
Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is in charge of administration of Vadodara city, the third largest city in the state of Gujarat, with an area of 149 sq kms and a population of 13.06 lakh residents as per 2001 census. The city traces its existence to 1816 with high quality urban infrastructure viz. water supply, drainage, storm water, transport facilities, etc. in the first decade of twentieth century. At the time of country’s independence Vadodara had attained the status of an education and cultural centre of Western India. Post independence, the city witnessed quantum industrial and demographic growth with the city infrastructure supporting this growth. However, macro economic developments and growth of neighboring urban centers like Surat and Ahmedabad has resulted in an economic slowdown of Vadodara city in the last two decades.
Historical legacy of Vadodara: The last two decades i.e. 1981 – 2000 have been a period of general decline for the city. The 1991 – 2000 has seen a decrease in decadal population growth rate from 40.42% in 1981 – 91 to 26.63%. Implying the city is hardly attracting migration to itself. This decrease is primarily due to reduced employment opportunities available in Vadodara. It would also be pertinent to note that both Vadodara and Surat had a population of about 4.67 Lakhs and 4.93 Lakhs in 1971 respectively, in 2001 the population of Surat was 24.33 lakhs and Vadodara has grown only to 13.06 lakhs.
Vadodara is sandwiched between two major growth magnets i.e. Ahmedabad and Surat. Though part of the golden corridor, Vadodara is at a disadvantage in attracting investments, since the only area that it covers is Anand, Panchmahal and Dahod. Also, Vadodara’s hinterland on its east gets constrained due to tribal areas and hilly terrain on the border districts of Madhya Pradesh.
There are various reasons for the slowdown in the economy of Vadodara. The key ones are:
- City has not been able to extend its municipal limits to urbanise the nearby areas, the city limits also excludes mega industrial set-ups of IPCL, Gujarat Fertilisers, refinery etc.
- City has not seen any investments in setting up administrative centres within the city.
- About 40% of industrial undertakings in industrial areas have are closed partially due to economic reasons, ageing workforce, lack of skilled manpower and lack of entrepreneurship in reinventing themselves in the wake of globalisation of Indian economy.
- Poor transport system and its management
These pressures on revenue sources and burden of population resulted in decline of service and coverage of municipal services. While the city has expanded its municipal limits to urbanised its nearby economically unproductive areas it has excluded the mega industrial establishments like IPCL, GSFC, Gujarat Refineries, etc thus resulting a loss of revenue.
Water Supply: The city gets water from radial wells in River Mahi, tube wells in River Mahi, from Ajwa Lake and also from tube wells scattered in the city. At present the water supply of the city is 270 MLD. The surface water sources supplies almost 30 % of the water supply. The city has two treatment plants, which treats water only from the Sayaji Reservoir (Ajwa). Water from underground sources is not treated but the supplies are chlorinated before supplying. The city has a water distribution network of 700 kms, which covers 75% of the total area.
Sewerage: The sewerage system consists of an underground piped network, five sewage-pumping stations, 35 auxiliary pumping stations five treatment plants and disposal facilities for the treated sewage. The city is divided into three zones with a total length of 535 km of sewerage network and the total sewerage generated is about 215 MLD. The present area of Vadodara is 149 sq. kms. of which only 82 sq. kms. (55 %) is covered by the sewerage system. This serves around 65% of the total population.
Solid Waste Management: Of the 550 tons of waste generated every day, around 484 tons per day is handled. Door to door collection has been started in 45% of area spread over all the wards. Of the total waste generated in the area, around 60% is generated from the residential areas while 22.5% is from offices, markets, hotels and commercial places. Rest of the waste is construction and industrial waste.
Storm Water Drainage: Most of the storm water is drained into the river either through natural drains or through storm water drains provided by VMC. The city has five major natural kaans (rivulets) and 19 lakes in and around the city limits. The storm water drains in the city cover about 45 % of the total area (49 sq kms) and about 48 % of the total population. The city has a total of 199 km of storm water drains of which 97 km is underground piped drainage.
Slum development: The city of Vadodara has 336 slum pockets with a population of around 2.57 lakha which is approximately 20% the total population. The slums lack facilities of proper drainage, roads and sanitation. Most of the slums, although may have water supply do not have the proper drainage facility. The sewage generated is discharged out into open lowland or into the nearby natural drain that ultimately pollutes the river.
Roads, Public Transport System and Parking: The city has three flyovers and railways under bridges each. The river Vishwamitri has 11 bridges interconnecting the city areas. The road network within the city is well developed in almost 70% of the area and caters to around 80% of the city’s total population. More than 80% of the roads are surfaced of which most of them are black topped while 19% of the roads are earthen.
Also, the increased vehicular population has resulted in increased vehicular traffic on the roads. The major roads and intersections experience traffic congestion during peak hours.
The present vehicle population of one million is expected to grow to 1.5 million by the year 2011. The high growth projected is due to the fact that the mass transportation system is inadequate and inefficient. Increase in vehicular population will further create problems of pollution and parking. Currently basements of buildings are used for parking resulting in traffic. Also, absence of pedestrian facilities results in traffic congestion and inconvenience to public.
Rejuvenation of Water Bodies: The City of Vadodara has several lakes which were in the earlier era were used to attenuate storm water. The storm water stores was then used by the city during the summer season. Now the relevance of many of these lakes has vanished and the storm water drains leading to them are damaged or in some cases blocked. Hence they really do not function for which they were used earlier.
With the intention of revitalising the lake water bodies and improve the environment, VMC intends to develop and beautify about six lakes in first phase. It also proposes to inter link some lakes so as to reduce the flooding problems in the city. Also, the Bhukhi River has a large catchment area and passes right through the city whereas the Bhukhi drain is having a small width area. As a result during the heavy rains the water floods in the surrounding areas. In order to avoid this VMC plans to intercept this water before it enters the city and divert it to Vishwamitri/Mahi.
Strengths and opportunities the city can leverage upon
Despite issues with shortage of hinterland for expansion and pressure on the existing services, various opportunities still exist for Vadodara. The opportunities emerge from the overall growth projections for Gujarat state based on the centrality that Gujarat holds in the country’s economy. India’s GDP is projected to grow at a rate higher than 8%. Hence considering past trends Gujarat state would grow at a rate of over 10% annually.
The industrial growth in the state would primarily get driven by existing industrial belts of the state and emerging ones viz. port based industries, value added processing of goods, special economic zones etc. Industries of Vadodara could participate in this growth by retaining its position in petrochemicals and building diverse and ancillary industries to main industrial centres of the state leveraging on its connectivity to these regions.
Tourism and Knowledge sectors have shown great potential in India and are yet to make any significant impact on the economy of Gujarat. Vadodara with its legacy of being an educational centre could position itself as a preferred location for educational institutes. To that end it would need to earmark land and attract entrepreneurs to setup self-contained Knowledge Parks. Vadodara would also need to influence the state government to expand the scope of MS University to accredit these institutions. Given the availability human resources IT enabled services sector would find it lucrative to set up facilities. Vadodara could also facilitate these by delineating such zones and seek support from state government to attract investments.
Direction for growth
The analysis above has indicated that the economic vision should encompass support by VMC towards Vadodara attaining the following:
- Leading position in the sectors of Knowledge Economy
- Consolidating and retaining its position in industries
- Promoting cultural heritage of the city for tourism
- To rebuild its identity as an education center
To that end VMC would need to position Vadodara as a ‘Livable City and Economic City’ that scores high on indices. These indices would undergo substantial change after VMC undertakes its infrastructure development agenda. This would need to be supplemented by VMC providing infrastructure support to existing industries to facilitate their development.
VMC would need to plan strategic interventions in order to rebuild its identity in the education sector. These could cover identifying/ zoning areas for setting up education campuses, knowledge parks etc. Provide incentives through development control regulations to make setting up of these centers less cumbersome. VMC would also need to influence the State Government to enhance the scope of MS University in the context of providing new courses relevant to ITES and bring in a system of accreditation of private education centers by MS University. In addition VMC would need to support State Government initiatives by showcasing the benefits of locating Knowledge economy based sectors in Vadodara.
In the context of tourism, VMC could support the State Government initiatives by providing connectivity and infrastructure related services to major cultural centers in the city and assist in including Vadodara as part of tourist circuits.
Source : Vadodara Municipal Corporation