Urban Corridors: Strategies for economic and urban development

The Indian national government has embraced the development of corridors between major Indian cities as a key development strategy: for example, work on the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is already underway while a second corridor between Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai is being planned. This follows earlier policies like the development of the Golden Quadrilateral and the North-South and East-West corridors that emphasised connecting the four major Indian metros. Focusing on particular sites along the Delhi-Mumbai corridor, this proposal will examine the impacts of this type of development on local and regional economies and communities. The development of the corridor has multiple stated goals, which include improving infrastructure, enabling exports, generating employment, and linking fast-growing regions to relatively poorer regions. However, here we intend to focus on the relationship between the development of the DMIC and urbanisation. Policy makers are increasingly focused on the critical importance of managing India’s urban transition to ensure the sustainability of the growth and inclusion agenda in the coming decades. However, despite the vibrant public debate about the relationship between such infrastructure projects and growth, little policy analysis is focused on the intermediate process of urbanisation, or on the unplanned and unintended consequences on urban settlements. Therefore, this project attempts to address the following research questions: is India’s corridor development policy a strategy for urbanisation (inter alia), or is urbanisation a by-product? How will the development of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) impact existing settlements within the area of impact of the corridor? How are local state and non-state stakeholders in these regions engaging with these plans, and how will they be affected? In addition, this project will investigate the potential for better integrating spatial and economic planning, particularly in the context of large infrastructure investments and newly urbanising areas. The project will involve fieldwork in two locations of the DMIC: one city in Gujarat and one city in Rajasthan. The locations of the cities will be chosen so that one is very close to the proposed DMIC alignment and the other one is further away. In addition, both cities will be near one of the proposed Investment Areas or Investment Regions of the DMIC. During the fieldwork, we will carry out visual documentation in these locations as well as semi-structured interviews with a range of stakeholders: city planning officials, district revenue departments, local industry associations, community organizations and NGOs, real estate developers, infrastructure providers, and other informants with in-depth knowledge of the cities. We also plan on holding consultations with local community-based organisations as well as local and regional government actors, to understand how they are responding to the changes that this development will bring. In addition, the project will draw upon detailed policy and archival research as well as secondary analysis of available data sources and planning documents, such as the Census, NSS, and IIHS’ panel data set on the built-up area of Indian cities (which is based on satellite imagery and provides key information on urban spatial expansion over the past few decades).