Sohna was close to Gurgaon, but still an hour away via routes that had to be navigated through residential and commercial areas, and were often riddled with traffic. The 22km Sohna highway, opened to commuters on Monday, now connects the city with the suburb within 15-20 minutes.
Investors, industry leaders, businesses and residents are optimistic. They are hopeful that Sohna will finally be “South Gurgaon”. One could live in Sohna and work in Gurgaon. Industries can put up their plants at rates cheaper than the popular industrial town of Manesar, and transport their goods across the country, they say.
“We believe that this highway has been made strategically to promote industrial and infrastructural development of the area,” Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) chief coordinator (industries) Sunil Sharma said on Monday.
The highway ends just a few kilometres ahead of IMT Sohna, being developed by the HSIIDC as an industrial cluster spanning over 1500 acres. About 500 acres of this area has been set aside for an electronics and IT hub. Work has already begun to set up factories there.
“Sohna was on the radar of industrialists more than a decade ago. But haphazard urbanization in Gurgaon’s south and the long travel time on routes riven with chronic traffic jams had dampened the mood. Now, with the highway and the development of IMT Sohna industrialists are exploring their options to have bases there,” said Gurgaon Industrial Association (GIA) president JN Mangla.
“It will also be a strategic point for ancillary industries servicing automobile giants. With Maruti’s massive manufacturing plant coming up in Kharkhoda, around 100km away, anybody with a factory here can easily move around goods,” he added.
Residents in Sohna said the prices of land too have shot up over the past six months. Industrial plots of one acre, which used to cost around Rs 1.5 crore in October last year, are now being sold for double the amount, a patwari told TOI.
Besides this, the highway will eventually close to or linked with three mega projects — the planned Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Delhi-Alwar rapid rail transit, and the Palwal-Kundli orbital rail corridor.
“Our plan to industrialise Sohna and bring improvement in development indicators has gotten new wings with the opening of this highway. IMT Sohna will be just 9km from the Delhi-Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway, 4km from the Delhi-Mumbai dedicated freight corridor and the Palwal-Kundli orbital rail corridor will pass through it. All of this has made this area a center of attraction,” the HSIIDC chief coordinator said.
Market watchers agreed, saying that easier connectivity will boost industries to set up factories in Sohna, and that in turn will facilitate other development.
“There are two outright advantages of this corridor: employment avenues and connectivity. Like in Noida where seamless road connectivity helped people stay in Greater Noida and send their kids for education in Noida, the same will happen here. The movement of the workforce will be seamless, and that’s why the demand for residential group housing and condominiums have increased multifold,” said Manish Aggarwal, managing director (north and east India) of real estate services firm JLL.
“Warehousing firms are gearing to set up bases here… This, in turn, will create more employment avenues in the area,” he said.
Around 20km from Sohna, women and youngsters in Nuh said they too were optimistic that the highway will make it easier for them to travel to and from Gurgaon for studies or work. “Earlier, reaching Gurgaon would take over 2 hours, and returning was more risky after dark. Now it will take just around 30 minutes. It’s also a big advantage for women like me who want to work in Gurgaon’s MNCs. We won’t have to struggle with our families, and have to rent an apartment in the city,” said 20-year-old Ayesha Khan, who lives in Nuh and is studying law at a college in Gurgaon.
“We can now hope for employment in factories and may be even set up small businesses,” said 21-year-old ITI student Shahid Ahmed.
Source : TOI