With Smart City project planning underway in different parts of the country, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) has already set the standards for other cities as it aspires to offer global firms a world-class infrastructure and facilities. To know its current and future development plans Ritika Bisht and Shubham Gupta of Governance Today, talked to Shishir Rai, Assistant Vice President, GIFT City. Edited Excerpts:

Shishir Rai
Shishir Rai, Assistant Vice President, GIFT City

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Ltd. has been named as one of the most ambitious project in the country with regards to infrastructure. Could you elaborate about GIFT?

GIFT is being developed as a global financial hub, a first of its kind urban development in India, designed to be at or above par with the other financial centres in the world.

The vision for Gujarat International Finance Tec-City was laid out by Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. GIFT City is spread over an area of 886 acres, out of which 261 acres is dedicated for multi-services SEZ, and being developed as India first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).

GIFT City is a green field SMART City with mixed use development with predominant commercial use. To support the commercial and other economic uses, a residential area is also proposed with all the required infrastructure, utilities and allied facilities. The proposed development in GIFT City is planned to create a dynamic urban environment.

The country has not been able to realize its vast potential in financial services. How can GIFT cater to this challenge and successfully attract top talent?

The last decade has seen unprecedented growth in India’s financial services sector. It employs over 3 million people, constitutes about 5 per cent of the GDP and has an estimated market capitalization of over US$ 200 billion. As India experiences continued economic growth, the financial sector would generate about 10-11 million jobs and a GDP contribution of US$ 350 to 400 billion by 2020.

Majority of Indians in financial sector operate from overseas. Given the opportunity people from other centres would like to come back to India. Besides global infrastructure, there will also be high quality of life in terms of residential buildings, schools, hospitals, clubs – it is all within the walk-to-work concept.

GIFT aspires to cater to India’s large financial services potential by offering global firms a world-class infrastructure and facilities.

From infrastructure perspective, how is GIFT planning to establish an efficient water supply and sewerage system?

Development plan incorporates the Infrastructure Plan of GIFT with technological innovation and integrated planning approaches. A judicious combination with the latest technology and global best practices in infrastructure service delivery are planned.

GIFT draws water from Narmada main canal at southern side of the GIFT site. Water shall be pumped out from the existing intake point through pipe line up to GIFT to meet its requirements.

The design vision for water infrastructure is to provide potable quality water in all taps in the city. The water supply system is planned to provide water on demand. GIFT aims towards being “Water Neutral”.

The water from the canal stored along with the buffer stock in the water reservoir (Samruddhi Sarovar) would be conveyed to the water treatment plant for treatment and further distribution.

The wastewater system will consist of collection, treatment, and reuse of wastewater for GIFT requirement. Wastewater will be collected and conveyed to the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). The treated water would be used for Flushing, Landscaping and for District Cooling Plant, enabling GIFT to be a “Zero Discharge Zone”.

In the smart city paradigm, intelligent urbanization including smart and green buildings cannot be ignored? How are you moving forward with this plan?

GIFT is being developed as a smart and sustainable city based on sustainable development practices. The Development plan of GIFT promotes the ideas of sustainability and ecology and provides balance between natural and built environment. GIFT is a compact urban development having more open space and encourages walkable communities. Development plan of GIFT optimizes the integration of greenery to provide environmental balance and caters to visual relief.

GIFT is planned considering the Next Class Development having specially designed GDCR and Design Guidelines including Green Building Guidelines specifying the Green Certification required for all the buildings within GIFT City. All building development work in GIFT is being envisaged in line of green buildings norms to minimize the impact of built environment.

IGBC and GIFTCL have inked a memorandum of co-operation (MoC) to showcase GIFT City as a Model Green City.

Can you elaborate your plans on integrated urban transport system for GIFT city?

The vision for transportation which shall be the lifeline of GIFT is achieved through an Integrated Urban Linkage System. The external transportation system includes grid of six arterial roads (Connecting to various areas of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar), Metro Rail Transport System (MRTS) to GIFT and Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) to GIFT.

The development in GIFT is planned on the Concept of ToD which creates vibrant, liveable business district. The development is compact, walkable from metro stations. Metro stations are connected with building with elevated AC walkways.

GIFT transport system is a comprehensive and holistic plan with combination of both – supply and demand side measures. GIFT transport system is developed considering land use, energy efficiency, emissions characteristics, traffic management, human behavior, economics, governance, health, safety, ITS, etc.

GIFT City transport system is thus integrated and sustainable.

Obviously, GIFT city is a massive project. What kind of challenges have you faced while undertaking it?

Many challenges have come in the way of development of GIFT City. Convincing the financial institutions to set-up their offices has been a challenge. To overcome this, GIFT City has been developed with state-of-art infrastructure and an urban environment matching international standards. Global companies are increasingly getting convinced to set up their new centres or shift their operations.

There are many stake holders involved in the development of GIFT and meeting the aspirations of stakeholders to make a focussed objective and bringing all stakeholders on a common platform is a major challenge. The unique institutional arrangement is serving GIFT to resolve the issues and progress at faster pace.

Implementation of enormous project like GIFT City always faces huge challenges; however, with right spirit and positive approach, we at GIFT are determined to make this project a success and set example for other smart cities to follow.