This day, April 17, marks 40 years since the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority was founded.
It was initially established to decongest residential areas of Delhi in 1976, as small-scale industrial units were a burden on the crumbling infrastructure. It was established during the Emergency, a 21-month period in 1975-77, declared by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
“Congress’s then youth leader, Sanjay Gandhi, wanted to clean Old Delhi as it faced many civic issues. During the Emergency, 4,000 acres of the Yamuna and Hindon floodplains were earmarked to house small-scale industrial units of Old Delhi. But Sanjay’s dream failed as the Janata Party government came into power and the Emergency was lifted,” Sushil Chandra Tripathi, retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, who served as the second chief executive officer (CEO) of the Noida authority, said. Tripathi took charge as the CEO in July 1978.
Owners of industrial units in Delhi refused to shift to Noida as the government had changed, he said.
“A non-Congress government at the Centre, led by Janata Party, called Noida ‘an illegitimate child of the Emergency’. In 1978, the Central government stopped developing Noida as they perceived it to be a burden and officials were asked to return the 4,000 acres to farmers. Later, a commission was formed to look into the wrongdoings during the Emergency in Noida,” Tripathi said.
“The commission gave the government three options — return the land to farmers, set up dairy businesses for farmers or develop an integrated industrial township. UP chose the third option and we started work on developing an industrial hub in 1978,” Tripathi said.
The township on the capital’s eastern edge has since transformed into a housing destination.
Noida kept growing as per the demands of buyers. It was never well-planned. The government developed the city according to the requests of investors, realtors and industrialists, officials said.
As per the master plan, only 13% of the 20,000 hectares is meant for industries, whereas 47% is for residential development. Noida has evolved from an industrial township to a realty hub.
The area between Hindon and Yamuna had no roads as it was the among the most backward localities of then Bulandshahr district, officials said. It was part of Sikandrabad Tehsil of Bulandshahr.
Noida was made part of Ghaziabad district, when it was carved out from Meerut. In 1997, the UP government named the area under Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway as Gautam Budh Nagar district.
Good connectivity through metro trains and well developed highways, such as the Noida Expressway, have brought the realtors here. Top schools, colleges, hospitals, golf courses, hotels, 650 IT/BPO units, a film city and a Formula-1 racing track have turned Noida into a preferred residential destination. The authority allocated Rs 9,000 crore in March to develop the city.
However, residents said the city would be better off if the government improved infrastructure and civic amenities.
“The law and order situation is pathetic and this puts people off,” Sunil Sethi, Sector 31 RWA member, said.
Industrialists said that power crisis is still a big issue that keeps manufacturing units away.
“Infosys, an IT company, is setting up its base here. But no big manufacturing company has set up shop here in the last four years. The city has wide roads and planned residential areas but big manufacturing players stay away due to poor policing and power cuts,” Sudhir Shrivastav, spokesperson of Noida entrepreneur association (NEA), a body of Noida’s industrialists, said.