In 1976, New Okhla Industrial Development Area (Noida) was set up by the then Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi as a modern urban hub, just 16 km from central Delhi.
Over 30 years, it became an ideal urban location to live in with many high-rises and malls dotting the landscape.
But infrastructure failed to keep pace with the boom. Residents say that erratic power supply, poor public transport and the increasing crime rate can stall this modern suburb’s rise.
Erratic power supply has forced many small-scale industrial units to shut shop. “We were promised privatised, reliable power supply but industries are getting power for just 6 to 7 hours a day even though the city was the first to privatise power. Our production is getting affected. Some of us are planning to shift if the situation continues like this,” said Ashwini Kumar Mahendru, former president, Indian Industries Association.
PP Sharma, general secretary, Association of Greater Noida Industries, said, “The main concerns of industrialists are law and order, and poor public transport.”
Last year, the head of a multinational company was lynched by some staffers. In the beginning of this year, a college girl was gang-raped, very close to the thriving Sector 18 market.
Noida residents blame imbalanced development for the crime graph. “Funds have been largely utilised to develop only the affluent and urban areas of the city. The backwardness of the rural belt has resulted in the present unrest,” said Dinesh Jain, joint president, UFLEX Limited.
Jain has a sprawling bungalow in Sector 50 and has hired private guards for his security.
Noida residents are so fed up with the situation that they say they do not want any elected representatives. “Noida has an autonomous authority with all major policy level decision taken by bureaucrats. Even municipal functions too have been taken over by this authority. If everything is being done by bureaucrats, I don’t understand why we need politicians here,” said SM Singh, president, Sector 62 apartments RWA.
PP Sharma, a senior officer at Yamaha Motors, is, however, hopeful that new infrastructure projects like the Taj Expressway and Metro link will transform the township. The Taj Expressway project alone is expected to boost development in this area. “Big names in the hospitality and entertainment sector, MNCs, IT companies and reputed educational intuitions are making a beeline for the area, which till a few years ago was considered a part of Uttar Pradesh’s hinterland,” said a Noida Authority official.