The “other” side of the Millennium City – Gurgaon!
A city of high rises, expensive apartments, swanky bars, starry malls, flashy lights, iconic brands and what? Of water shortage? Of poor sewage systems? Of government’s insincere? Or a grand touch up to a messed up planning? Gurugram(earlier Gurgaon), The MNC hotbed in the North of India is an absolute eye candy with its chrome and glasswork. But is that all a city is supposed to be? On the grounds of urban planning, Gurugram is one that has failed. And that is not an exaggeration at all because what we see all the time is not the actual picture. As the city houses the biggest names of the corporate world and the people with ‘new money ‘, it boasts an image of prosperity and success. But that is just a facade because on foundational grounds the city is flawed and what is prosperity is people lack basic amenities, rich or poor alike.
Apartments in Gurugram have been facing water shortages at times. All due to the poor planning and disoriented construction process, there was never a layout on how water will reach these homes. But what is even more worrying is the drainage system, which seems almost nonexistent. And why would it not, the roads and the compounds become a body of mud pool even with moderate rainfalls. These are basic needs or say foundation work that should be done when laying a city. So, why was this looked over by everybody involved with the development of this magnanimous city?
The answer lies in one word, greed. In a time when accessibility, ideas, and resources were at the fore, then only a thing like greed could ruin an opportunity like this. Only if government and planning bodies were a little strict, if the developers were more mindful and only if these people worked incoherence, the picture would have been something else and not this land grabbing, money hobbing, snatch-run-hustle scenario like a video game. But even video games have more regulations and guidelines sometimes.
Back in 1996, when GE decided to set up shop with Genpact, the foundation for the ‘Millennium City’ was laid. A move orchestrated by the then chairman of DLF, KP singh. He set up a meeting between the prominent leaders from the finance body of the government and Jack Welch of General Electric. Genpact lured other Multinational companies to Gurgaon and hence begin the game of greedy real estate. Companies saw Gurgaon’s proximity with New Delhi and International Airport, real estate players saw this new land booming with money, people and opportunities. So, to cash in, they began buying and building anywhere they could possibly get a land. That shows even today, when you look around you can see undeveloped and unattended patches of land between structures.
“There was a chance to build world class infrastructure and it wasn’t that difficult either. We could have built Singapore. But we didn’t. ” Said, Pramod Bhasin, the vice chairman of Genpact in an interview with India today, 2012. But the problems don’t just end with infrastructure, a serious issue lies with the law enforcement. Apparently, the enforcement is not efficient enough in curbing the crime, as news floats around everyday about one thing or other. While the public transport is also in doldrums, a severe insincerity from government is pretty visible. A city that houses people from all the economic stratas, owning and maintaining a private vehicle is not possible for everyone and hence a proper public transport service is need for a basic civic amenity. And the available options don’t do justice to the dignity of a standard living. Residents too are mostly protesting and struggling to get their deserved share of civic facilities with only respite found among the RWA. In a bold opinion, a financial and corporate behemoth like Gurugram should not be facing such dire conditions on the inside. In place where the buildings are designed by the best architects in the world and built with so much resource, money and human capabilities are nowhere a limiting factor. Still it isn’t being used to its actual potential to put things straight.
Though on the other side, things are not totally beyond damage control. Cities like New york, London, Manchester, Shanghai have came back from death. All that is needed here is willingness. But as of now, Gurugram (earlier Gurgaon) , the ‘Millennium City ‘ is a hoax. Its zing and bling might induce shine to the eyes and desire to the heart, but under that it is perfect example for planners and architects on how, not to build a city.
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