The most populous city in India and the fifth most populous city in the world, the business hub of India, Mumbai is getting congested and expensive day by day. In a dynamic city like Mumbai, significant development is talking place across all sectors --- right from education to healthcare, hospitality to tourism and technology to infrastructure etc. As the main city is getting costlier day by day, there is an opportunity to develop the nearby urban areas into smart cities. These will not only help people to enjoy a better lifestyle but also will help them with employment and business opportunities in various sectors and a dwelling at affordable cost, right at their door step. Lot of development projects have already been started in urban areas near Mumbai such as Vasai-Virar, Navi-Mumbai, Thane and Bhiwandi, Kalyan.
Vasai- Virar is one of the fastest growing and fifth largest city in Maharashtra. It is situated in the North-West of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is the Vasai-Virar region which covers 9.5% of MMR and also includes the Municipal councils of Virar, Vasai, Nallasopara, Navghar – Manikpur and Naigaon, with a population of more than 12 lakh people. The population growth rate of Vasai-Virar region has been higher than Greater Mumbai and MMR region, indicating shift of population to these areas. The migration rate of Vasai-Virar has been at par with cities like Noida, a satellite city to the national capital of India. This shift clearly indicates the willingness of people to shift to areas like Vasai-Virar due to the development that has taken place in this region during the last decade.
The Vasai-Virar region has also been identified as one of the eight satellite cities by central government.
The Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) has been instrumental in the rapid development of the Vasai-Virar region. An annual budget of Rs. 1,266 crore towards infrastructural development has been presented in 2012. Even the ministry of Urban Development has taken Vasai-Virar under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Satellite Towns making it the only city from Maharashtra to be taken under this scheme.
Vasai- Virar is strategically linked to Mumbai and other major centers in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, such as, Navi Mumbai, Panvel, Thane, Bhiwandi and Kalyan, via high-end rail & road connectivity. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway (NH- 8) passes through the eastern part of the region and the city is also well connected by the western and central railway.
Also, with the proposed elevated rail corridor between Churchgate-Virar and the Bandra-Virar coastal corridor, the road journey will be curtailed to an hour. No other city in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region/peripheral locations provides such connectivity. Upcoming projects also include transport initiatives 40 metres wide 36 kms long ring road running through Sativali-Gokhivra-Vasai, Pelhar- Waliv-Gokhivra. New railway routes are also planned for Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panel and Virar-Dahanu-Gholvad.
Vasai-Virar based Late Shri Vishnu Waman Thakur Charitable Trust started schools and colleges, constructed hospitals and supported residents of Vasai-Virar area. In the year 2000, the trust established the Viva College with affiliation to the University of Mumbai and admits all students from the Vasai-Virar region. The sprawling campus has offers all courses under Arts, Commerce, Science, Management, Engineering, Technology, Hotel & Tourism Management, Architecture, and Pharmacy. The college also offers an exchange program to leading Universities like George Washington University, Washington D.C. USA.
VVMC started the first ever municipal hospital in Vasai-Virar. In the pipeline are 21 health care centers and a 21 lakh sq. ft. hospital. VVMC has also ensured that Vasai-Virar witnesses wholesome growth. The region has 83 lakes out of which VVMC has developed 21 lakes and are currently working on 09 lakes. The region also has 71 parks which are either being renovated or restored.
The upcoming Virar-Alibaug corridor is a single corridor having a length of 126 kilometers which will incorporate multiple modes of transport such as buses, BRT, metro rails, cars and non-motorized tracks. The alignment of the corridor has been designed in a manner to promote planned development in the Virar, Kalyan, Navi-Mumbai and Alibaug areas. The MMRDA has pegged the cost of the project at Rs. 10,000 crore (USD 1600 Million) in 2013.
The Future City
Over the last decade, the Vasai-Virar region has been witnessing a rapid growth in infrastructure along with steady influx of population. The rail and roadways have strengthened by manifolds in and around the entire region. These two factors combined together have paved way for a steady economic and industrial growth. These facilities are a necessity for any city to flourish as a commercial hub as well as residential township.
The last decade has seen the city take giant steps in laying the bricks for a strong foundation that will continue to make the city a place that provides excellent opportunities for individuals and companies, not only to contribute to the growing economy of a strong nation but also fulfill the dreams of millions. Cities are built to give dreams a place to grow bigger and better and in the coming decade the future city of Vasai-Virar will arrive turning those into reality.
(With inputs from Knight Frank Report)