Friday, January 31, 2020

‘Reactive’ model for urbanisation unsustainable; leading to urban sprawl, low-density suburbanization: Knight Frank India Report

Transport infrastructure key to decluttering and expanding urban centres, says report

In its latest report, global consultancy Knight Frank says that the future of urban centres in India lies in creating long term and sustainable transport infrastructure. The report titled “India Urban Infrastructure report” traces the current impact of rapid urbanization and says that proper planning and infrastructure development is the mantra to mitigate and minimize environmental and growth conflicts to a great extent and to ensure that cities sustain their growing population without exacting too great a toll from the environment.

Urbanisation is widely recognized as the best solution to deal with the world’s population growth as
infrastructure can be focused and optimized, to deal with the requirements of a dense population.
Urban planning is critical to plan appropriate infrastructure that is sufficient for the population and
minimizes the impact of urban development on the environment. It also dictates the quality of life that the residents will enjoy or must endure in a city.

Shishir Baijal, Chairman and Managing Director, Knight Frank India, said, “Urban centers essentially
concentrate economic activity and enable the resident population to participate in the country’s growth story. While urban planning has evolved as a discipline globally, it has generally not kept pace with the rate of urbanisation. The current model of urbanisation is more reactive rather than proactive, especially in the developing countries, and results in urban sprawl and low-density suburbanisation that substantially increases the cost of delivering infrastructure to a more dispersed population. This has a negative impact on the environment as it is energy-intensive and consequently contributes dangerously to climate change.”

Investments in infrastructure often occur once the population has already moved into a large extent and the authorities do not have enough time to plan future capacity or execute projects to adequately
address existing concerns. The current issues faced by almost all urban centres in India include:
- Poor quality of air – This has increasingly becoming one of India’s largest concern as it is leading to ill health and diseases impacting general productivity. The sources of air pollution are largely considered to be vehicular emissions and continued use of fossil fuels releasing large amount of carbon compounds in the air.
- Lack of potable water – Many large cities of India are facing issues of availability of potable water due to lack of availability from proper sources as well as depletion of natural sources. This is prominent in rapidly urbanized locations like Gurugram and Bengaluru.

- Lack of sanitation – Overcrowding has also created issues of sanitation in the cities which are, despite the efforts of the government, prone to open defecation and poor waste management. With existing infrastructure falling short in treating and cleaning the systems, the lack of sanitation is leading to further contamination of potable water sources like nearby rivers, lakes and sea.
- Insufficient solid waste management – Another challenge faced commonly by almost all urban centres in varying degrees is the lack of the civic system to address the solid waste generated by the urban centres. As per estimates, 115,000 tons of municipal solid waste is generated per day in India. It is estimated that the solid waste generated in small, medium and large cities and towns in India per capita per day is about 0.1 kg, 0.3–0.4 kg and 0.5 kg, respectively. The estimated annual increase in per capita waste quantity is about 1.33% per year.
- Limited transport infrastructure – One of the challenges leading to the breakdown of urban centres is the limited amount of public transport infrastructure and lack of connectivity of suburban and satellite locations to main economic centres in the cities. This has been leading to people, especially migrant population to look at living within city limits, even in compromised conditions.

India has long been counted amongst the fastest growing economies of its size, but the recent
slowdown has casta shadow on our GDP target of USD 5 trillion by 2025. The Finance Ministry’s
Economic Survey of 2019 had concluded that India needs to spend 7-8% of its GDP or USD 200 billion annually on infrastructure to meet its growth targets. The government’s decision to invest nearly USD 1.5 trillion in the next 5 years (or USD 300 billion annually), is a measure of its commitment to revive economic growth.

Shishir further added, “Creation and sustenance of urban centres is critical to ensure that India’s
economic goals are reached in the correct and planned manner. It would be imperative for Indian cities to work on decluttering the city by creating auxiliary centres to its existing economic nodes. We feel that this can be done with the help of creating a robust transport system that will allow locations to grow as alternative economic centres pulling settlers away from the existing locations. Having said that, the growth has to be planned and incentivised for companies to take space in locations other than established commercial areas.”

The report makes a special mention of the transport infrastructure growth in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and identifies 28 locations as the next real estate growth corridors in the city as a direct outcome of the infrastructure development. Primarily, the result of approximately 250 km of Metro lines and 70 km of road projects cumulatively worth over Rs 1.8 trillion at various stages of construction in the region. The extent of real estate traction in the resulting locations has been evaluated based on the current disadvantaged connectivity, availability of land for greenfield development or the redevelopment potential that the catchment offers.

About Knight Frank
Knight Frank LLP is the leading independent global property consultancy. Headquartered in London, Knight Frank has more than 19,000 people operating from over 512 offices across 60 markets. The Group advises clients ranging from individual owners and buyers to major developers, investors and corporate tenants. For further information about the Company, please visit
In India, Knight Frank is headquartered in Mumbai and has more than 1,400 experts across Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. Backed by strong research and analytics, our experts offer a comprehensive range of real estate services across advisory, valuation and consulting, transactions (residential, commercial, retail, hospitality, land &
capitals), facilities management and project management. For more information,