The National Capital Region grew bigger on Monday with the inclusion of two more districts of Haryana and one in Rajasthan, a move that will not only decongest Delhi, bursting at the seams with a population of 16 million, but will also give a boost to infrastructure in the two states.
The NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) had agreed to include Bhiwani and Mahendergarh in Haryana and Bharatpur in Rajasthan in NCR, union urban development minister Kamal Nath said. Taken together, the three districts are eight times the size of Delhi.
"The NCR region must grow simultaneously to reduce pressure on the health, educational and economic infrastructure of Delhi," Nath explained. A proposal to include two more Haryana districts — Karnal and Jind —would be taken up later.
Urban planners say the move could help develop new growth centres and attract investment beyond the present NCR boundaries often overshadowed by "developed suburbs" such as Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad. The success will, however, hinge on two big factors: connectivity and infrastructure.
Experts say it will give a leg up to the realty market but only if accompanied by adequate infrastructure and job creation.
"It will improve real estate activity in these areas but in the long term unless there is actual development and investment in infrastructure, it won't be of much benefit," said Anshuman Magazine, chairman & managing director, CBRE South Asia Private Limited, a real estate management and consulting firm.
Conceptualised in the mid-1980s to decongest Delhi and promote planned development in the region with Delhi as its core, the NCR has an area of 34,144 sq km.
It is one of the largest national capital regions in the world — making up 1.6 % of India's land area — covering nine districts of Haryana, five in Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan. Monday's expansion will take the area to 46,249 sq km.
A popular haunt of bird-watchers, Bharatpur was included in the NCR for being contiguous to the region and also because it is part of the tourist-rich golden triangle— Delhi-Agra-Jaipur.
Mahendergarh and Bhiwani, on the other hand, are on the proposed Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor - which is expected to trigger an economic boom in the area.
The problem, however, is that NCR concept has not really paid off. Haphazard development has meant that while some areas have developed fast, others have fallen way behind. The three new additions, too, fare poorly on the development index.
And on the ground, poor enforcement of NCRPB's regional plan that called for integrated transport, power, water and housing systems remain only on paper, which has hampered development.
For instance, while DDA provides housing in Delhi, in other areas the job is mostly left to private developers, resulting in skewed development.