In the year 2006, the UPA government undertook a very ambitious project called the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor or in short DMIC.
An MOU was signed in December 2006 between Vice Minister, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Government of Japan and Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP). A Final Project Concept was presented to both the Prime Ministers during Premier Abe’s visit to India in August 2007.
So what’s the DMIC project – it’s a mega infra-structure project of USD 90 billion with the financial & technical aids from Japan built around the High-speed Freight Corridor between the political capital and the business capital, covering an overall length of 1483 Kms going through 6 states 2 union territories (source: http://www.dmic.co.in/)
The also includes developing 150 – 200 kms on either side of the DFC into Investment regions and Industrial areas. These investment regions include building of
- Smart Cities
- Power plants
- manufacturing industries
- Roads & Highways
- Thermal power
- and a whole bunch of other industrial sectors to support this grandeur plan
This was the then UPA government’s DMIC project which has now got a make over and is being called as Make In India by the BJP. Whether it’s a make or re-make, that’s beyond the point. What is more important is that for such a massive project which also made it to the KPMG’s most innovative 100 projects list, how would the basic needs of the project be satisfied. The basic needs such as
- Human Resources
Let’s take a deep dive into each one of these basic needs
Land: The land required for developing these massive industrial projects need to be acquired by the local governments. So where would this land come from – given that the project needs thousands of acres of lands, there will be a greater demand for agricultural lands. The government will go to any extent to buy these lands from the farmers enticing the farmers to sell their lands and it’s already happening in Haryana, Maharashtra where the work has already begun and almost 2400 acres of land has already been acquired. A whopping 1300 crores has been given as compensation to the farmers at a price of 23 lakhs per acre. This is just the beginning.
Water: Three major players will be competing for water – the people who will be migrating to these cities need water for domestic consumption, the industries to keep themselves up and running and the agriculture (if anything is left) will need water. Moreover the industrial corridor goes through regions that are already low on water resources, given this, what’s the feasibility of such industrial projects. Money can buy many things, but if there is no ground water, even money can’t come to the rescue.
Environment: Environmentally sensitive zones need to be protected. That means we have to first identify what these zones are and that can’t be done without a proper assessment done. Given that the project is already underway, so far, there have been no reports in the public domain that any such assessment has been done. We have had floods in Uttarakhand, J&K recently which are a grim reminder how nature can create havoc if we start to meddle with it in ways we are not supposed to.
Human Resources: An estimated 180 million people will be affected by this project. What about the cost of displacement? Then there is also a problem of hundreds of thousands of people migrating to these so called development areas – what about their housing? We already have Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia, we don’t want to be creating more irregular housings in the name of development.
I left lot of other concerns/issues regarding this project, but this is good enough a wake up call
For a project of this nature which has the potential to change India for good or for bad, it’s imperative that complete transparency is maintained. Whether we make; re-make or completely break, it’s in our hands, solely in our hands.