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At a snail’s pace on fast lane

Swanky shopping malls, high rises and multiplexes are the hallmarks of Noida, one of the fastest growing cities in the National Capital Region. Proximity to Delhi, and a plan with a promise of better infrastructure, affordable housing, and lucrative job opportunities made it the city of opportunities and aspirations. HT survey

india Updated: Aug 27, 2010 01:34 IST

Swanky shopping malls, high rises and multiplexes are the hallmarks of Noida, one of the fastest growing cities in the National Capital Region. Proximity to Delhi, and a plan with a promise of better infrastructure, affordable housing, and lucrative job opportunities made it the city of opportunities and aspirations.

Set up in 1976, NOIDA, an acronym for New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, was the brainchild of late Sanjay Gandhi. It was constituted by then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Narain Dutt Tiwari.

In 1984, the Delhi Transport Corporation setup its first depot outside Delhi in Sector 16 of Noida and are presently running 95 low-floor buses catering to around 60,000 commuters everyday. Emergence of the Metro rail, which is operational at six stations in Noida, has been instrumental in ensuring uninterrupted travel to the national capital.

“Metro has transformed lives of the residents. I have stopped using my car to go to my office in Delhi and use the Metro instead,” said Parmindar Singh, a senior citizen and resident of Sector 26.

But it is not a smooth ride all the way, as the connectivity from the airport or railway station in Delhi remains a major problem. “We do not get taxis or autos and those who agree to ferry us ask for exorbitant charges,” said Jatin Choudhury, a resident of Sector 62, which is not yet connected to the Metro. During 1970’s, one would be frowned upon if they spoke about purchasing land in Noida but today investors are ready to pay three-times the price. The authority’s land allotment price, which was R120 per sqmt in 1976, has touched R15,000-45,000 sqmt depending on the locality.

“During 1984, a full house in Sector 27 cost around R300 on rent. Today, the rentals are as high as R9,000 per month for a floor,” reminiscences Mahesh Saxena, a resident of Sector 23. Saxena was one of the lucky ones.

Today, the ‘plot’ has changed somewhat. The picture perfect image of Noida has somewhat soured. Civic infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the growing population. The most appalling problem that residents face is acute power shortage. This is also impeding the economic growth as industries are shutting down. Crowded roads, encroachments, traffic snarls and dearth of parking space have paralysed mobility in Noida.

Economic prosperity of the city has also propelled a growth of different nature - crime. Incidents of robbery, murders and dacoities in the city have been hogging the limelight. The Nithari killings and the Arushi-Hemraj murder cases revealed the ugly underbelly of the city, as questions on safety and security began to be raised.

Notwithstanding its shortcomings, the city which is spread over 20,000 hectares of land, has much to pride itself on. It has wide roads and speedy connectivity through major highways. It also has the distinction of being the only city in the country to have a separate master plan for water supply and sewage infrastructure.