The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, which is rapidly coming up in the state, is set to transform urban India dramatically. The author, a second year student, pursuing Masters in Department of Urban Planning at the School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi, writes about the ‘smart’ planning that has gone into its development.
When it comes to smart cities, we always cite examples from the west, having none from our own country. But now, with the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), located in Gandhinagar, emerging as the first smart city in India, this massive endeavour will be the first step towards the blueprint of success.
It will also stand in good stead as an example for other cities to follow in terms of adaptability, scalability and replicability.
The brainchild of McKinsey and Fairwood Consultants amongst others, GIFT City took birth in 2007.
It’s planning and design for smart infrastructure, state-of-the-art technology and novel concepts are integrated into its remarkable design and acts as few of the best practices to learn from, outlining key elements that make it a smart city of today.
A greenfield development conceived as a financial CBD, GIFT City shall be incorporated as part of the proposed urban complex of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, laid across an enviable 886 acres between the two cities. Its Master Plan is such that it encompasses not only the context of the surrounding site but also embraces characteristics of the region it is set in, which is what gives it an edge over others.
Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Co Ltd (GIFTCL), a joint venture company of the Government of Gujarat and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), is establishing GIFT City. The project boasts of contemporary infrastructure including social and physical, as well as transportation and industrial infrastructure, making the best possible use of resources in hand.
The project regenerates the area as high-quality, mixed use district of residential, commercial and open space facilities that optimise land and real estate values. With a package of smart infrastructure offerings with world class amenities well planned for, it is all set to rival top global financial centres including London, New York and Hong Kong.
With GIFT City added to its footprint, Gujarat will become the only state in India to have an integrated state-wide gas grid of 2,400 km as well as boast of a state-wide water supply grid designed to cater to over 75% of the population whilst having one of the world’s largest manmade freshwater reservoirs.
One can schematise the smart infrastructure stemming from the central control centre, driving smart transport, desks, streets, security and surveillance, and landscape along with smart buildings and infrastructure.
Smart water infrastructure: With the Narmada main canal as the source, an efficient water supply and sewerage system is in place with 24×7 availability, recycling and reusing of the wastewater to achieve the concept of ‘Zero Discharge City’.
A sustainable approach of making the project water neutral is aimed for through a District Cooling System (DCS) that will help achieve economies of scale, reduce energy, maintenance costs whilst at the same time improving air quality and temperature control.
DCS helps distribute thermal energy from a central source to several buildings sited at multiple locations via a distribution network supplying chilled water at the other end through utility corridors for air conditioning.
Smart transport infrastructure: The Transit Oriented Development (TOD) minimises the use of cars and encourages high share of public transport and conflict-free movement of traffic.
GIFT shall be operating on an Intelligent Transport System with BRTS, MRTS and a multi modal transport hub also planned. Part of the smart transport system include interactive road maps, automatic vehicle tracking, real time travel response, transit node management, road condition
system, parking management that will help establish security, conduct ridership analysis, enable effective real time monitoring as well as maintenance.
An integrated urban linkage system with efficient land use planning is an approach that will help GIFT reduce area under transport and promote walk to work culture with minimum distances under TOD. Along main spines of the city will run a combination of sustainable modes enhancing accessibility to the CBD through pedestrian walkability, aided by TOD focused around transit stations.
Transportation and logistics nodes, multi-level parking hubs have also been envisaged to enable provision for a modal split of 90:10 with 4 internal hubs housing capacity for about half a lakh cars apart from a travellator being designed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.
Smart power infrastructure: This envisages high-tech automation for substation, distribution, lighting and distribution network with real time monitoring and control.
Power distribution strategy incorporates Gas Insulated Switchgears (GIS) substation for effective distribution within the city, and dual 33KV feed to every building from switching panel room.
Another feature is its centralised power backup feed.
Smart waste management infrastructure: It will suck waste at 90km/hr; this will then be treated using plasma technology which entails minimum space and works without much human intervention, giving way for an Automated Waste Collection System – the AWS, through chute system. This provides for an automated waste collection, treatment and segregation system.
Smart ICT Infrastructure: The city is anticipated to flourish as a national and international hub of IT and ITes giants as it is set to compete with its foreign counterparts and play a pivotal role for many a finance centres, global trading corporations, insurance companies and offshore banking.
All the above shall only add and aid in the speedy infrastructure service delivery thanks to the global level best practices applied at the local level.
Smart Building Infrastructure: Intelligent urbanisation is what has been embarked upon by creating efficient, safe and smart buildings so that they can offer a gateway to the global financial markets – technologically advanced with safety ensured through a command centre.
The GIS Platform for monitoring the services can also be enabled, an immediate emergency response for disaster management is also possible, whilst regular maintenance has been readied too.
Green building infrastructure: Green building parameters have also been well-thought out – structure design efficiency, material efficiency, indoor environmental quality enhancement, O&M optimisation, waste reduction that contribute to the element of sustainability at GIFT.
Infrastructure for environment friendly structures involves design in accordance with microclimatology, use of renewable energy sources, high energy fusion of nature and technology, decreased energy usage, decreased energy wastage and thereby decreased energy bills.
‘Rome was not built in a day’ fits in perfectly well, for the city certainly faces a huge challenge and has a long way to go for it to materialise from a mere computer model to a success story. Nevertheless, on its journey to become the first of its kind, it is worth the wait.
The Gujarat International Financial Tech City is expected to become a contemporary model development in India, advancing the ideas of sustainability with technology.