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For Kabul, A slice of Raipur

Naya Raipur is set to be the model for planners of the Kabul New City project, an extension of the Afghan capital. Ejaz Kaiser reports

india Updated: Aug 03, 2014 09:58 IST
Ejaz Kaiser
Ejaz Kaiser
Hindustan Times

Naya Raipur, the new political capital city of Chhattisgarh, is gaining recognition from unexpected quarters. City planners from the war-torn Afghanistan were recently in town to learn more about Naya Raipur, touted as “the best planned city” of the 21st century. The city, built adjacent to the state capital of Raipur, is being developed in three phases, which would be completed by the year 2031. Currently, the city is in the first stage, that began in 2007, and ends in the next three years.

This June, a five-member team from Kabul landed in Raipur with the master plan of the upcoming Kabul New City (KNC), slated to be built over an area of 740 sq kms in Afghanistan by the Desabz City Development Authority (DCDA). Aside of the Afghan officials, the delegation included senior consultants from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) — the agency is providing technical assistance to the Desabz City Development Authority (DCDA) — and focused on the details of managing the city’s massive infrastructure, construction management and other techniques adopted to ensure its smooth functioning.

For two weeks then, Naya Raipur turned into a field site for training and analysis, and agencies such as Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA) were roped in to share their experiences.

“We feel that Naya Raipur is the best and most suitable sample for an in-depth learning and training experience,” said Amanullah Afghanzoi, senior project manager, who was part of the Afghan delegation.

But why Naya Raipur? “This is an ideal site to understand how a city can be developed in stages. It will be good for us to adopt a similar method to develop the KNC,” said Sayeed Anjum, senior consultant at JICA, the agency that is assisting the planners in road constructions, water supply, sewage systems, and other city building issues.

Some of the features that attracted them include an underground water system, drainage system, better roads and improved rail and air connectivity. The high point of the city also included its analysing the functioning of the Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA), that planned the city and works with several consultants on a number of issues.

Interestingly, the delegation had been to various cities including Goa, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, as well as Tokyo — a city where the development standards were “too sophisticated” to be replicated in Kabul — before finally deciding upon Naya Raipur as their model.

Officials said that the need for a new urban centre such as KNC has been a priority — in the last decade or so, the Afghan capital has been the centre for migration from several areas in Afghanistan, due to rising concerns around security and unemployment.

As a result, the Afghan capital is staring at a population crisis — the capital has recorded an increase in population from two million to five million.

This population explosion in the city of Kabul resulted in undue pressure on the city’s infrastructure, a rise in environmental pollution and several other urban crises that accompany a densely populated city. The Afghan government was thus forced to develop “project KNC”, a city adjacent to Kabul, members of the delegation said.

N Baijendra Kumar, the chairman of NRDA, added that the successful implementation of Naya Raipur development project and the stringent measures followed had impressed the Afghans. “Naya Raipur is cited as the finest planned city of 21st century among the new townships constructed globally. It is a good model for city planners,” Kumar said.

A tale of two cities

Challenges for Kabul
Population explosion due to rising migration. Security concerns and unemployment in the country are forcing Afghans to move to Kabul
Lack of urban infrastructure
Environment pollution on the rise
Illegal settlements

Idea of Kabul New City:
To provide housing and livelihood
To design an economically self-sustaining city
To generate employment
Development in a phased manner

Why Naya Raipur:
First “smart city” concept in the country where development is done in stages. Naya Raipur, the first new capital city in the country, is currently in the first stage of development, that ends in the next three years. The development of the city will be completed by 2031. The ground work for Kabul New City is about to start

Underground water system, better drainage and public transport infrastructure, good roads, improved rail and air connectivity

The success of the Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA), that planned and is executing the project

Good connectivity with the national capital

Emphasis on “world-class infrastructure” including social infrastructure (social services such as health care, education, transport etc.)

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