Chief Technology Officer at Transport for London Shashi Verma & CEO and Senior Fellow Reuben Abraham write for Bloomberg Opinion on the underutilisation of public land in Indian cities and how redeveloping them can unlock huge economic value and improve quality of life. Exhibit A: the eastern waterfront of Mumbai.
"Even as India is consumed by its upcoming elections, the world’s biggest, the country is nearing another milestone: It’s set to overtake the U.K. to become the world’s fifth-largest economy. By 2030, its GDP could top $10 trillion. Yet, unusually for such a geographically large and economically vibrant country, India has no states to compare to California in the U.S., China’s Guangdong province or Japan’s Kanto prefecture -- all regions with $1 trillion economies. Nor does it have a city on par with New York or Tokyo, both of which boast bigger economies than countries such as Canada and Indonesia, accounting for over a tenth of national GDP apiece.
Nonetheless, a big idea such as transforming the waterfront into the National Financial Capital Region could fire up imaginations among bureaucrats, bankers and citizens. What’s more, Mumbai’s port is just one of many public sites that are either unutilized or underutilized. India’s railways, ports, defense services and state-owned companies control hundreds of thousands of hectares, a large proportion of which are unproductive relative to their location in the heart of big cities. Success in Mumbai could potentially unlock much larger tracts of land across the country, boosting the economy and dramatically improving the quality of life in Indian cities. Whoever triumphs at the polls next month shouldn’t let this opportunity slip."
Read the full article here.