Indore: The commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh

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Indore, situated on Malwa Plateau at an altitude of 553 metres above sea level, is the largest city in Madhya Pradesh. It is a tier-II city, which along with its satellite towns of Pithampur and Dewas is one of the fastest- growing regions in India. The proximity to the Gujarat- Mumbai grid has been especially advantageous in developing Indore as the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. Even as far back as the 16th century, the city was established as a trading centre between Deccan and Delhi. Indore is thus indisputably the financial capital of the state and India’s third oldest stock exchange, Madhya Pradesh Stock Exchange is also located here. The city is further known as an important educational hub in central India and it is the only Indian city to have both an Indian Institute of Technology and an Indian Institute of Management.

Indore’s past history is closely tied to the Holkar dynasty, founded by Malhar Rao Holkar. The Holkar state played a vital role in city planning and education that have greatly helped the city to flourish. Efforts have been made to preserve the heritage buildings of the earlier times and incorporate them into the cityscape along with the modern, newly built structures.

Housing and Real Estate

Indore Development Authority (IDA) has goals of developing both residential and commercial developments along the Super Corridor. This project extends over a 12 km stretch from the airport to Vijay square in central Indore. Developers have shown much interest in providing multi-storey apartments, plots, row houses and villas in this area.

Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan has given focus on making the city slum-free and also on the need for building low housing units for the immigrant labour population. The state of Madhya Pradesh had also joined the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) to transform housing for poor in various slum areas of the cities in the state. The pilot phase for this has already been started in Indore.

In 2013, in efforts to reduce the cost of affordable housing plots, the IDA board further lowered the supervision charges for the construction of 302 ongoing flats and houses for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and 434 flats and houses for Lower Income Group (LIG). Aranya, located 6 km from Indore meanwhile is a noteworthy example of community housing as it is set to ultimately accommodate a total population of 60,000 in 6500 housing units.  The housing caters to various income groups and ensures that septic tanks, electricity and water facilities are made available to all.

Transport

Indore is well-connected by road, rail and air; with an exceptional local transport network that operates using a public-private partnership model. The main public transport operator in the city is the Indore City Transport Service Corporation Ltd (ICTSL), which is the largest compressed natural gas (CNG) – powered bus service operator in Central India. The buses that are part of Indore BRTS are GPS enabled and LED monitors displaying the arrival timings of the buses and passenger information are provided which aids commuters with simplified navigation. A ‘hub and spoke model’ helps further to accommodate routes for all passengers including students and office-goers. Such features have contributed to Indore being considered as one of the best bus service providers in the world along with Bogota. ICTSL also operates a taxi-cab service called ‘Metro Taxi’ that provides service not only within the city but also to commuters travelling to Bhopal, Ujjain and other part of Malwa.

Indore is linked to the rest of the state and country through national and state highways. The Agra-Bombay national highway (NH3) and NH86 to Ahmedabad in the west and Betul to the east all pass through Indore. It is further connected to Khandwa Town by the Khandwa Toll Road, towards south of the city and to Ujjain in the north-west.

In terms of rail services, Indore is one of the few places in India that offers both metre gauge and broad gauge railway tracks. Indore lies on the longest gauge network between Jaipur and Purna, and is part of the Western Railway network. Indore is directly connected to all other major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and others. Indore has its own airport as well called ‘Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport’.

Industrial and Economic Development

Indore’s economy is expanding rapidly owing to factors such as good investment environment, suitable industrial policies, presence of renowned educational centres and improved infrastructure facilities.The textile industry is one of the oldest businesses to have been established in the region. Several textile mills can be still found in the area and the city provides a considerable supply of wholesale garments. Metal industries including that of alloy, automobile and steel are also some of the more traditional businesses of the city.

Major industrial estates can also be found around the city of Pithampur that is home to several pharmaceutical companies. It is no surprise that the city has subsequently earned the name of ‘Detroit of India’. Indore’s automobile production sector is also a significant contributor to its economy. More recently, the city has witnessed an expansion of the information technology sector with numerous IT companies being established.  An electronic complex has also been developed which houses some of the top IT companies of the nation. Use of IT in e-governance systems has also been actively encouraged by the government.

Indore is also known for being the host for the Global Investor’s Summit which is attended by potential investors from across the world, including those from US, Singapore, Japan, UK and Germany.

Culture and Tourism

Indore, being home to people from various other Indian states represents a truly diverse culture. It is known especially for the delicacies it offers that ranges from the famous ‘namkeens’ to mouth-watering sweets.

Several temples and holy sites are located in the city including Indreshwar Temple, Khajrana Ganesh Temple, Annapurna Temple and Kanch Mandir. Popular hot-spots near the city include Mandavgad, Sitala Mata Falls, Choral Falls and Maheshwar which tourists and locals often visit during holidays or over weekends.

Challenges

The city in spite of its various attractions faces few challenges such as that of high population density which has caused problems in land-availability and congestion. Meanwhile, water infrastructure facilities require further development since water supply is limited and a sizable part of the population do not have access to an appropriate sewerage network.  Further, roads with narrow width combined with increasing vehicular ownership have led to traffic issues and increased accident rates. The lack of adequate green cover has further intensified the pollution levels, with suspended particulate matter in the air being more than the specified threshold by Indian standards. To tackle such issues, the Indore Municipal Corporation has introduced and implemented various reform measures both at the city and state level, to ensure that the city maintains its dynamic growth momentum.