'I Expect Delhi to Become a Global City Soon' - The New Indian Express

'I Expect Delhi to Become a Global City Soon'

Published: 13th Apr 2014 06:00:00 AM

There is no evidence or record to stand by the claim, but relics say Delhi is a 5,000-year-old city that has been ruled by an array of rulers from time to time. Relics dating back to 300 BC indicate that different dynasties from the Mauryas to the Delhi Sultans and the Mughal emperors and then the British have all left an indelible mark on what we call Delhi today. The city is replete with cross-section of cultural and historical influences which still remain and leave Delhi with an unique blend of tradition and modernity.

Delhi has always been a city on growth mode largely because over the years, apart from being the power centre of the country today, it can boast of being the new commercial capital of India.

The transformation of Delhi has been truly remarkable especially over the last 10-15 years.  Delhi’s initial transformation began before and after the 1982 Asian Games that led to construction of hotels, roads and other civic and sports infrastructure. But the real changes happened in late 90s and early 2000s which saw increased industrial and corporate activity.

As Delhi got on the growth track, the entire infrastructure game changed with the world-class Metro, good roads, flyovers and airport becoming signatures of the city.  Today, from an infrastructure point of view, Delhi is India’s leading city.

What is exciting is that the focus on infrastructure will continue while the best is yet to come. I expect Delhi to become a global city in the next few years and represent India’s growing global economic power.

However, to achieve that Delhi would need a well-planned and structured development and growth plan to sustain the pace of growth, urbanization and the ever growing population—both floating and permanent.

I have lived in Delhi for over two decades and have seen the city go through a metamorphosis of sorts. From a political capital, it has become an economic and cultural centre as well. The living standards have vastly improved, all forms of transportation are truly modernised, health, education and sanitation infrastructure has considerably improved, focus on green and clean Delhi remains visible.

But a lot still needs to be done. We need to ensure women’s safety in the city. Both the residents and the government must work together to make that happen.

Though Delhi continues to retain its cultural and historical identity, it has become more international in its character. However, we need to ensure that the Delhi’s cultural heritage is preserved. Being a modern city should not be at the cost of disturbing Delhi’s historic fabric and environment  that spans thousands of years.

Growth of Delhi is also reflected in the air traffic numbers. Total traffic has grown from 9.09 million in 2003 to 36.8 million in 2013/14. Air traffic movement has grown from 95,000 in 2003 to 2,92,000 in FY 2013-14. Its capacity has grown from 16.1 million in 2003 to 50.3 million in 2013-14. But let me admit, chaotic traffic, poor traffic management and commercial and residential  bylanes smothered with cars, cars and mores cars disallows the city to grow into a glitzy, global metropolis.

(Kaul is CEO, South Asia, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation)

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