The city is expected to provide an uncluttered, planned and pollution free future (as stated on www.nayaraipur.in). It is planned to house 450,000 people within a decade, which is half the population of Raipur (1 mil. Census 2011). To handle the expected growth in the future, the city is said to be easily extendable. Besides providing a location for the state government and administration, the new city should become a center and hub for education, finance, trade and industry with a “green” and efficient infrastructure. The “green” features include for example rain water harvesting and solar energy. This ecological aspect should also be reflected in the cityscape and it is planned that half of the cities area should be reserved for vegetation or infrastructure.
The ambitious plans seem to have caught the interest of another state government that is in need of a new capital. In the end of 2014 the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu visited Naya Raipur. After the Separation of Telangana including its former state capital Hyderabad from Andhra Pradesh, the government made plans to develop the new city Amaravati on the banks of the river Krishna. That also shows that new city development projects of huge proportions are actively conducted in India to address the problems that emerged and worsened during the growth of the big metropolitan areas like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
The personal view I got from my visit in Naya Raipur was, that on the paper the whole project seemed to me like a city planners dream. When I arrived in New Raipur on a rainy afternoon, it was a very surreal experience for me. The city is in the mid construction phase, with a lot of the main infrastructure corridors up and running. The most obvious sign were the finished urban roads in the middle of seemingly endless rice fields. At a first glance the only users appeared to be water buffalos, standing in the middle of these roads, chewing and minding their own business. Like its neighbor Raipur, Naya Raipur has many lakes spread out over the development area. The lakes are already used for recreational purposes by the population of Raipur, especially by families on weekends. But also the local youth from Raipur is enjoying the freedom on the empty roads on their motor bikes, showing off with risky maneuvers.
Scattered on the area of the development project are isolated and futuristic looking buildings, like a governmental complex, a bus station, a police station and one of the residential zones. This residential zone looked finished, but still remains for the most part without inhabitants. To grant access for weaker social economic groups, it is planned that 10% of the residential area should be reserved for people with a lower income and 15% for Economical Weaker Section (EWS) housing in the form of social housing projects.In the planned city informality should be limited to specific zones, but in the residential zone it is already showing that informality follows the development. The city is still lacking regulated shopping opportunities for everyday needs of the inhabitants and informal vendors and shops are ready to cover that demand. If the development project can achieve its goal of an uncluttered, planned and pollution free future remains to be seen as time progresses.
Last but not least I would like to thank Manish Kumar Sinha, his Family and Friends for their hospitality which made my stay in Raipur special.