Not many people know that Ahmedabad is being developed as a smart city. Whenever one talks about smart cities, the first impression that comes to mind is that of a hi-tech urban region which comprises of modern buildings and infrastructure. More imaginative minds can go on to think about moving platforms and Japanese parking lots.
But creating such infrastructure is costly and requires considerable amount of energy to operate (fossil fuels and otherwise). The real concept of smart cities is exactly the opposite. The primary characteristic of any smart city is its information and communication technology infrastructure.
The second crucial characteristic is its development without harming the ecology. Smart cities- unlike the usual assumptions- make use of all forms of alternate fuel resources to power it. These resources could be natural (running water, sunlight) or artificial (nuclear). The nuclear option-for example- is quite evident in Japan. In India, the concept of renewable energy has not gained as much momentum as it could have.
Development of the GIFT (City)
The new face of Ahmedabad is evolving in the form of the GIFT City(GIFT stands for Guajarat International Finance Tec). It is an 886 acre township that is being built as an extension of Ahmedabad. It is located 20 minutes away from the Ahmedabad airport and has the honour of being the first fully planned smart city of the country.
The GIFT city focuses on modern and sustainable urban development via utilization of utmost modern technology and infrastructure. The construction work in the city focuses on water systems, waste management, fire-fighting, district cooling, power, ICT System, domestic gas, utility tunnel etc. Real time travel response will also be introduced in the city and it would comprise of digital signage for better control over traffic flow.
If one were to understand the differences in infrastructure, an in-depth study is required. Underneath the GIFT city, construction of 12 km long maze of tunnels is being carried out. These tunnels would be used to route power cables, fibre optic cables, water pipelines etc.
There is also a special cooling tower under construction which would eliminate the need for air conditioning in buildings. The new technology would use an energy efficient method of circulating cold water through buildings to cool them. Similarly, solid waste disposal system would gather waste from everywhere (homes, offices etc.) through high pressure suction pipes and deliver it to a waste management plant.
The new extension of Ahmedabad is truly futuristic. Amenities here would include the latest in information and communication technology, which would enable the township to become the new financial hub of the city. The communication services to be installed here would allow establishment of both local and international companies. Just like any other urban centre, this new region also has been divided into residential, commercial and industrial zones.
The development of the GIFT city project was started in 2011 and is expected to take a decade to complete. In the meantime the authorities responsible for the construction of the city have been allowed to approach Union Urban Development Department directly for all major decisions. This would eliminate the need to go up the chain of command in steps; thereby saving time.
New Avenues for Investment
Ahmedabad emerged as an alternate market during the slowdown of the property sector in 2013 and earlier. The city had started being developed as a smart city at about the same time. The government has since provided adequate support for the development of modern infrastructure. The promise of GIFT City has increased the demand value of Ahmedabad real estate by many fold. There is also an outflow of features and technologies being implemented in the smart city and many new builders and constructors are using them to create “environment friendly” homes.
Today, Ahmedabad is an important hub of both residential and commercial properties. Due to the focussed efforts on the development of “smart” resources, the new housing projects in Ahmedabad have the most modern and scalable infrastructure.
With a large number of expats exhibiting interest, corporate builders have started investing heavily in the city. The returns from these new housing projects in Ahmedabad are considered to be assured. The demand from the expat community dictates the quality of the new projects. The support from the local government also favours investment.
Ahmedabad has emerged alongside Aurangabad in Maharashtra as the new hub of prime realty. There has been a rise in real estate demand in both the cities because of the new opportunities of economic development evolving there. With prime territories becoming saturated and the diminishing demand due to the earlier slowdown, new housing projects in Ahmedabad and similar territories are being developed in ever greater numbers. In such cases, buyers and interested parties either move to the new location or make the purchase as a long term investment. The prospects of profitable returns are high.
These new territories mark the next tier in property investment. It is said that saturation in demand and intense competition in the prime territories(metropolitans) is now driving builders to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Also, with the development of the Delhi Mumbai industrial corridor, the need for sustainable future development has arisen in Ahmedabad as the progress from the major territories of that corridor boost economic activity all across.
Improving Economy and Revival of Realty
After the slowdown of the past few years, the realty sector this year has exhibited positive signs of revival. Sales figures from the quarter that ended in September 2014 show that Mumbai and Bangalore have seen a significant jump in sales figures. In his quarter, Bangalore led the sales at almost 15% increase when compared with the sales figures in the same quarter last year. Mumbai fell in close at heels at the second place.
Then of course the government recently relaxed the FDI norms which have paved way for more financial resources to be pooled into the country. Enhanced service quality and world class developments are all in the offing. The improving economy of the country as a whole is creating a favourable environment for investment.
This is why most of the upcoming projects in Ahmedabad are being developed to cater to the demand for residential accommodations. Even the peripheral areas of the city are being developed after land acquisition by builders. The new house schemes in Ahmedabad now comprise of both apartments and row houses.