The Non Native Choose Pune
The eighth-most-populous city in India, Pune has about 3,115,000 people (as of the 2011 census) spread over a geographic area of 250.56 sq.km. Pune has the fifth-highest gross domestic product (GDP) of the country’s cities (at INR 1,065 billion), with a GDP growth rate of 8.23%. Pune is also known as the “Oxford of the East” because of its large number of educational institutions (811 colleges) that attract international students. The city of Pune has developed as the counter magnet of Mumbai, the administrative capital of the state of Maharashtra and business capital of India. The high cost of living and overcrowding in Mumbai has drawn migrants to Pune in search of better opportunities in all areas of life. It is now a preferred destination for many citizens in Maharashtra for job opportunities, education, healthcare services, real estate investment and better quality of life, among others, given that Mumbai (approximately 150 km away) is already crowded with a comparatively higher cost of living. The same applies to many citizens all over India, who migrate to the city for better jobs and education.
In a study conducted by the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune’s immigrant population increased from approximately 370,000 migrants in 2001 (14% of the population) to 660,000 in 2011 (21%). The old areas of Pune form the city’s core, with traditional dwellings (wadas and chawls) as the predominant style of housing. The old city primarily has mixed land use areas, where the city’s major trade and commercial activities take place along with residential use. In the last 25 years, Pune has seen massive growth in its housing industry, mostly because of the boom in the IT industry. This led to increased demand for housing for the influx of skilled labor inside the city. The demand from higher- and upper-to-middle-income groups is normally being met by private builders, leading to manifold increases in, for example, organized housing, organized rental housing, service apartments and townships.
Pune has traditionally been a manufacturing hub, with IT a predominant source of employment in recent years. Large-scale industrial units saw substantial growth in the recent past. Pune encourages migrants to take advantage of employment opportunities to the same extent as it does the native population. To cater to Pune’s increasing population, the civic body drafted a city plan for 2007-2027, with the aim of expanding the city’s boundaries. Those limits now include 23 nearby villages newly inducted into the city. This has influenced a major land expansion drive expanding the PMC westwards to include new IT hub developments.
The Smart City Plan strives to make Pune an inclusive city, especially for the poor and disadvantaged who are mostly migrants moving there for better opportunities. Initiatives have been planned across various fronts to ensure a comprehensive development that will improve the quality of life, create employment and enhance incomes for all. Citizen engagement is a major enabler in identifying problems, and city administrators must actively engage with their communities to tackle them. Developing an inclusive society requires a city to focus on all aspects of urban infrastructure and services that cater to all demographics of its population, including the steady growth of employment opportunities, quality housing, education, healthcare, improvements to public transportation and other services and the PMC has been actively looking to improve existing infrastructures.