New Pune Airport – Critical Need for Supporting Infrastructure… Facilitating Development of South Pune Region
After waiting for more than a decade, we finally have some positive development on the Pune airport! This week, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra announced the final site for the new green-field airport.
The need for an independent civilian green-field airport has been identified for a long time. With a population of over 6 million, the Pune Metro Region is the 7th largest in the country, and growing fast. The population is expected to touch 10 million in the next two decades. The present Lohegaon airport at Pune is a defense airfield and this places numerous restrictions on commercial flight operations (number of available flying hours, adequate land for passenger terminal expansion, lack of a longer runway, lack of two parallel runways, etc.)
Many projects for the new airport were proposed since the last decade, but with no progress. It was a long wait. Some old timers on twitter will remember my regular tweets (since 2010) about the new Pune airport progress (or lack thereof).
Multiple sites in the Chakan-Rajgurunagar area (North Pune) were considered, but rejected due to land acquisition and other constraints. Finally, this last week the Maharashtra Government has finalized on the site near Purandar. The ‘Chatrapati Sambhaji Raje Airport’ (as it will be called) will come up near the Pargao-Memane villages, located to the South East of Pune, near the town of Saswad and the Purandar Fort. A big thanks to the CM Devendra Fadnavis, the Pune MP Anil Shirole and other authorities for pushing through this long pending critical project!
An aggressive 2019 deadline has been proposed. This is great, but will need extremely good execution.
This new airport can be an excellent catalyst to drive the development of South and South East Pune Region. Over the past two decades, a lot of the manufacturing and software/IT growth of Pune has been concentrated in the North West/North/North East corridors. This new airport will act as a magnet to attract development on the South/South East side. This is good for the long term balanced growth of the Pune Metro Region.
It is critical that a 5-10-30 year plan is created for this area. I believe this area (and development planning associated with it) will come under the newly formed PMRDA (Pune Metro Regional Development Authority). There are many lessons that can be learned from other areas development in Pune, as well as from other cities.
First and foremost, it will be critical to build a good road access to the new airport. At present, the accessibility of this area is not great. The routes through Dive Ghat, Bobdev Ghat and via Katraj Ghat – Khed Shivapur are all not ideal, given the current condition of these roads. The Ring Road project for Pune is another long pending project, and completing this project (at least certain sections of it) before 2019 is imperative for good access to the new airport. A ring road connection from the NH4 near Khed Shivapur to the new airport would be a good first access point.
Here we need to learn from the Bangalore and Hyderabad examples of the past decade. The new Bangalore airport was built in 2008, however the access road (widening the highway, flyovers, etc.) took a long time to build. Hyderabad on the other hand built good road access to the new airport from early on. The goal should be to have excellent road access infrastructure ready before the airport completion deadline.
Looking at the next few decades, it is also important to consider a good fast rail connectivity to this new airport, from the city center. Rail connectivity (public transport access) to the airport is critical.
As I mentioned earlier, the new airport will act as a prime catalyst to develop South/South-East Pune. Proximity to the airport will drive many businesses, industries, education/research institutions, tourism centric facilities to locate to this area. The long-term plan for this area should include setting up new IT/Software, Business and Research Parks in this area. The existing manufacturing areas (MIDCs) at Jejuri, Shirval/Khandala (Satara district) need to be expanded. This airport will have good proximity to Satara and Baramati as well, and manufacturing infrastructure in these areas can be boosted. A Delhi Aero-City type area should also be planned to locate hotels and businesses near the airport complex.
One important infrastructure piece that is lacking in Pune today is a good international standard expo and convention center. This should be ideally build near the new airport as well.
In addition to Pune, Panchagani and Mahabaleshwar will have very easy access from this new airport (less than 100 km). Similarly, the majestic forts of Purandar, Rajgad, Torna and Sinhagad are also nearby. If a good plan is developed, this airport can drive more tourism in the Pune region (including neighboring districts).
Pune has been lagging behind all the other metros on many of the key infrastructure projects (Airport, Metro, Ring Road, etc.). We have a lot of catch up to do, and fast execution is going to be of paramount importance. Whether that happens or not …. it remains to be seen. But at least as far as the airport is concerned, I am more optimistic this week, than I was at any point in the past 10 years!
(post updated: Jan 21, 2013: There was some disconnect across two data sources – the summary web report and the pdf reports. I was going by the web summary,which had Pune projections at 11 million. While the pdf report was 10 million. Now looks like both of them are in synch, and state the Pune projection as 10 million. Updating the post as well as the title. Per the 10 million projection, Pune will be tied at #5 spot with Bangalore….)
A recent McKinsey Report on India’s Urbanization examines the trends around the growth in urban population centers. It presents a comparison across the 2008 population numbers with the 2030 forecasts.
Here are some interesting findings in the report:
– By 2030, the number of Indian Cities with a population of 1 Million or more will grow from 42 to 68
– By 2030, 5 states will have more than 50% population living in urban areas.
– From 1971-2008 India’s urban population grew nearly 230 million. The next 250 million in urban India will be added in half the time.
For more insights and data points, do take a look at: India’s urbanization: a closer look (report, interactive graphic and audio commentary).
The interesting observation in this report, from a Pune perspective is that it will be one of the fastest growing cities over the next 2 decades, nearly doubling its population to 10 million. In the process, it will likely overtake Hyderabad and tie up with Bangalore to take up the #5 spot (behind Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai).
While the population of Pune doubles, the rest of the urban infrastructure load factors (land, water, power, vehicles, etc.) will grow at a much faster rate. (4 times,5 times…even 10 times). This raises a long list of serious questions about infrastructure planning.
In this blog post, I have attempted to highlight a few questions/discussion items that come to mind. I will try to expand on some of these topics in further detail in future blog posts.
What will be the new residential/industrial areas of Pune in 2030? Where will the growth happen?
Like Mumbai, would heavy/manufacturing industry shift out of the city?
How would the existing land redevelopment happen?
What would the city’s economy look like? Services vs. Manufacturing Split?
Let’s take one example of the city’s borders… will Pirangut be a part of 2030 Pune City?
Will the Mumbai-Pune Expressway essentially become one big urban highway?
Pune’s water supply comes from the Panshet-Varasgaon-Temghar-Khadakwasla Dams. For a long time Pune has been blessed with a surplus water supply, but the first signs of trouble are already evident (as we have been seeing in the month of July in recent years…). According to a rough estimate the present storage capacity of these dams is more than 2 times that of Pune’s requirement (that is assuming all water is used only for Pune City).
Pune’s water needs in 2030 will be much more than 2 times the present requirement. Where is the remaining water going to come from?
Some might come from Pavana dam? Maybe?
Will any water from Mulshi Dam (presently used for power generation and downstream Kokan requirements) be diverted for Pune?
Any other dams nearby that can supply water to Pune?
Note – any extra water for Pune is going to come at an expense to crop irrigation. This will be a very tough issue to resolve.
What water management projects (e.g. rain water harvesting, sewage recycling) will be implemented?
Maharashtra is already reeling under power deficit. The power requirements will grow non-linearly (much more than 2 times).
I feel (maybe I am completely wrong!) that the power situation might be relatively less difficult to tackle than the other infrastructure issues? More power plants need to be built!
What types of power plants? (Nuclear/Gas-based/Thermal)
Will alternative energy play any meaningful role by 2030 to meet Pune’s needs?
A lot of discussion/debate is already in progress around the Pune Metro and other mass transit systems. I will not add to that here in this blog post. But suffice to say, that this will be a very critical issue. By 2030, will Pune have:
An underground (at least in some densely populated parts) metro?
Truly dedicated pedestrian and bicycle zones?
A good ring road to divert highway traffic out of the city?
High-Speed (greater than 200 kmph) train links to Mumbai and other cities?
A city of 11 M in 2030 needs a good 2 runway international airport.
If the current Chakan site is not feasible, what are the alternatives?
Will the proposed New Mumbai airport near Panvel be able to meet some of Pune’s air transportation requirements?
Are multiple smaller regional airports one possible solution?
What kind of quality of life will the Punekars have in 2030?
How does the city scale up while maintaining its green spaces?
What kind of FSIs would we be looking at?
What pollution/smog levels will Pune face in 2030?