When one hears Nagpur, many an image is conjured in the mind. These include oranges that give the Orange City its most well-known epithet, the gateway to the country’s most popular wildlife resorts, a city with amazingly well-developed urban planning and infrastructure, the country’s second greenest city and the spicy Saoji cuisine that is unique to Central India.
Some of the more well-read among us may also remember it to be the second capital of Maharashtra and the destination of the State Assembly’s winter session. The politically inclined may also remember how the city has always decried the “step-motherly” treatment meted out to it by the political powers of Western Maharashtra, ever since it lost its state capital stature in the erstwhile C P Berar state and merged into Maharashtra.
For the last decade and a half or so, however, this slow sleepy town has been on the march towards a complete makeover. No longer are the only news reports generated from here related to the agrarian crisis and farmer suicide. A revolution of sorts has been taking place in this city, as silently as most of the other things happen here.
In fact, the 300-year-old city was even declared as the most livable city after a nationwide survey by ABP News. It also ranked very high under heads like healthcare, public transport, cleanliness and other indices. In the Make In India week held in February 2016, the city saw some very promising investments in fields as diverse as electronics, textile, defense, infrastructure, agro-industries, and electronics.
The biggest advantage of Nagpur has always been its location. Being on Deccan Plateau, which is one of the most stable geographical structures in the world, and far away from the sea protects it from natural calamities like earthquakes and floods.
At one point, there was a discussion about declaring Nagpur as the alternate capital of India with some seats of the Central government in the city. This, too, was by virtue of being located where it is – far away from any of the hostile international borders. It is this safety offered by Nagpur that led to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) having its biggest treasury chest here storing all its gold assets in the city.
Since, it lies bang in the center of India and is a home to the Zero Milestone from where all the distances in India are measured, Nagpur is well connected by roadways, railways, and air to every major city in the country.
If you were to look closely at the world map, you would find that Nagpur’s location is central in a global context as well. This is the reason the state and Central governments are pushing it as a potential location for an international air hub.
From ancient times, Nagpur has been an important center of trade and commerce. Other than orange, it is also known for the cultivation of cotton and silk. This is the reason that the weavers of Koshti community have been living here for ages. Their presence meant that Nagpur had a booming textile industry. It was here that the Tatas decided to initiate their industrial aspirations from here by setting up the first textile mill of the country in 1877, which was eventually known as The Empress Mills. The region is also rich in several minerals, specifically coal and manganese, giving rise to a thriving mining sector. It was also for a very long time the hub of timber trade being surrounded by dense forests on all sides its teak known as ‘Nagpur Teak’ was renowned all over the world and Nagpur was once the proverbial largest timber market of Asia.
All of these traditional industries exist even today, albeit in a more organized and modern fashion. Orange growers have also included processing the fruit into different finished products as a means to increase profits. Modern methods of agriculture have helped the local farmers grow much more varieties of fruits here. Mining is undertaken by various government subsidiaries like Coal India (which owns the Western Coalfields Limited here), Manganese Ore India Limited (MOIL) and Indian Bureau of Mines among others. In the last couple of decades, the stature of Nagpur has increased manifold. In 2004, it was found that the city had the maximum number of households with an annual income of more than Rs 1 crore among all Indian cities. A decade later, the Institute for Competitiveness found it to be the 14th most competitive city in the country.
There is also a lively startup culture in the city. A few local incubators are also located here, while some of the startups have got acclaim on national and international levels as well. All this combined with the conducive environment provided by the government only means the startup culture in the city will blossom into a credible employment provider.
The city is also home to one of Asia’s largest industrial area in the form of Butibori admeasuring approximately 24 sq. km. or 2312 hectares. This 5-star industrial area located on the outskirts of the city has a lot of manufacturing units. These facilities belong to companies like Indo Rama Synthetics, Hyundai Motors, KEC, CEAT Tyres and Electrolux besides those of many homegrown businesses.
On the other end of the city, there is another industrial cluster in Hingna. The manufacturing units located here are those of, Mahindra and Mahindra, International Combustion, Spacewood, Bajaj Industries, NECO group, Candico. Other than the big names, the city also has more than 22,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) located in and around it. The countries largest industrial explosives manufacturer Solar Explosives Limited is also located here.
Several IT companies also have operations out of the Orange City and many others are in the process of bringing their operations over. Companies that are already working out of the city include TCS, Infocepts, Persistent Systems, GlobalLogic and Ascent Technologies etc. Those who have either earmarked space for themselves or shown interest in setting shop in Nagpur include Mahindra Satyam, Infosys and Wipro.
Nagpur boasts of being home to some of the most well-known brands and businesses. In fact, many of its homegrown brands have gone international. Some of the biggest among them are:
Though Nagpur’s growth story has been fast-paced, most of this growth has been achieved only in the past two decades. Before this, the city suffered after joining Maharashtra. People from Vidarbha have always criticized the disregard and indifference of political leaders from the western parts of the state. They have also felt that the local leaders, even those who eventually played an important part in national and state politics, didn’t take up local causes.
From complaining about lack of political will, the people of Nagpur now enjoy being among the most powerful leaders of the country. Union minister Nitin Gadkari and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis have together ensured to focus on the development of the city in every way they can. Many of the ministers in the state cabinet also belong to Vidarbha. Moreover, being the home of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the city has become much more influential today than ever before.
Nagpur is regarded as a hub of education in Central India. Among the local population, literacy rates are as high as 92%, making it one of the most literate cities of India. Students from states like Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and Chhatisgarh are known to come to the city for better educational opportunities.
Other than its local university, the Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University which was established way back in 1923, Nagpur has three other universities: Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University (MAFSU), Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University and Maharashtra National Law University. One of the oldest agriculture colleges and the only fire service college in the country are located here.
There are several premier institutions in varying fields like medicine, engineering, law, agriculture and management. These include Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT), Laxminarayan Institute of Technology (LIT), Government Polytechnic, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Government Medical College, Indira Gandhi Government Medical College and College of Agriculture. In addition the many other prestigious institutions have already been sanctioned like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), National Law School to the city, IIIT etc.
Many reputed research institutions also have a presence in the Orange City. These are National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute (NEERI), Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), National Research Centre for Citrus (NRCC), etc.
As it is home to two government and one private medical colleges, Nagpur has also attained the status of a medical hub for Central India. These hospitals along with the private ones serve the population from villages in the neighboring states in the radius of 500km from the city. Not only from other states, but some of the private hospitals in the city doctors have even served people from other countries. This has made the city a budding spot for medical tourism.
There are many super specialty and multi-specialty hospitals here. Several renowned practitioners in fields like urosurgery, neurology, oncology, pediatrics and gynecology hail from Nagpur. Also, it offers state-of-the-art treatment facilities at affordable prices. Recently the Chief Minister’s pet project; the ‘National Cancer Institute’, a state-of-the-art comprehensive 350 bedded, 7,00,000 sq.ft. Cancer Hospital too has started taking shape.
The political atmosphere in the city is supercharged, there are many plans, which have been rolled out in rapid succession for the development of Nagpur. The geographical and strategic advantages of the city also mean that these projects are in varied sectors.
The most talked about and anticipated project of the lot is Multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN). Not just in the city, but at 4300 hectares it is also the biggest economic development project underway in India currently. It is proposed to consist of a cargo hub based in the premises of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport and a special economic zone (SEZ) for industries to set up manufacturing plants.
Many IT companies like TCS, Infosys, Hexaware, Tech Mahindra etc have already acquired land and some like TCS are already operational at the SEZ in MIHAN. Reliance Group has announced they will set up the country’s first aerospace park. Additionally, Boeing and Air India are already running an MRO (maintenance, repairs, and overhaul) unit. TATA’s state-of-the-art TAL Manufacturing Solutions Ltd. an aerospace manufacturing facility is also fully operational. Hospitals, entertainment centers and tourist attractions are also planned within MIHAN so that international tourists can visit the city without coming out of the airport.
Patanjali Ayurveda Limited has bought more than 300 acres of land in MIHAN SEZ to set up a food park. This mega processing unit will be responsible for solely producing all the orders required to fulfill export orders. The company hopes to use the facilities at MIHAN to make the export process easier and cost-effective in the near future as well as help the agro-industry in the region.
As Nagpur marches on to the road of development, the infrastructure in the city is also being upgraded accordingly. Nagpur Metro is probably one of the fastest under construction metro rail projects, which involves a rail corridor of approx 39 kms servicing 36 stations being built at a total project cost of Rs. 8680 Crores. It is expected to be a game changer for the city.
When a river flows right through a big city, it is expected to add beauty. However, the Nag river has been more of an eyesore for a couple of decades now. The civic and state officials have now proposed a rejuvenation plan for the river. The plan also includes the development of the riverside as a tourist spot and a sewage treatment unit.
The civic authorities have planned to make Nagpur a sustainable and green city by treating all the solid waste and sewage. Larsen and Toubro has been appointed by the state government for the technical aspects of the smart city project. The project includes 1,200 km of fiber-based networks, WiFi-based net connectivity at 136 strategic locations, CCTV surveillance at 700 locations covering major junctions, variable message display systems (50 of them), public address system, vehicle-surveillance, drone-based aerial surveillance, smartphones, smart parking and environment sensors.
Other than these major big-ticket projects, several other development plans for Nagpur are at various stages. These include:
For the last few years, Nagpur has been on a slow and steady march towards development. Despite the numerous projects announced by the government, and in some cases because of them, have emerged a lot of investment opportunities in the city.
Increased economic activities along with relaxation in FDI norms by the government have given many more opportunities to investors from other countries. A citizen-driven movement called Nagpur First has also been bringing in more investors every year, promoting Nagpur as the ideal investment destination. These are some of the sectors worth checking out.
Triggered by the hype around MIHAN and the other projects, there is a boom in the realty sector of Nagpur. Land prices in the city have seen an unprecedented upward swing ever since the big project was green lighted. Moreover, there is no dearth of land like in the metros which are bursting at their seams. This gives more people the chance to be a part of the growth story of Nagpur.
MIHAN and the activities planned within the SEZ is expected to provide employment to more than one lakh people. These will be in sectors as varied as manufacturing and medicine. The biggest advantage for the city is the ready availability of skilled manpower for all its growth related needs from the many educational institutions located here.
Compared with the metros where investors are found to be rushing, Nagpur offers a much better quality of life. The pace of life here is much more relaxed than in most big cities. This is partly because of the well planned network of roads here which means the time required in conveyance is not a lot. With the development of the city having taken place in a planned and structured manner, the growth has been controlled. This means the city had the time to adjust to its growth at every stage to he concentric development of the city
Nagpur is known as the Tiger gateway of the country because it is surrounded on all sides by major national parks and wildlife reserves like Pench, Tadoba Andhari, Nagzira, Navegaon, Bor, Umred Karhandla, Melghat and Kanha.
There are many attractions in and around the city as well including Deekshabhumi, Sitabuldi Fort, Dragon Temple, Swami Narayan Temple, Ramtek Temple etc and many lakes within the city’s perimeter. The civic officials also have an ambitious project called “London street” under which they want to develop a patch of road on the lines of streets in the British capital
Agriculture has been the backbone of the Indian industry for centuries and Nagpur has been no different. Crops like oranges and cotton are a part of the very identity of the city. Activities allied to agriculture like processing and manufacturing of goods and even agro-tourism have started taking shape in the city.
The best time to invest in Nagpur was yesterday. The second best time is now. Go ahead and be a part of a growth story like no other. Make sure to get a piece of the action before there is no scope or space left for you. With so many sectors and fields being open to investment, infrastructure & realty already at high is bound to further accentuate its upward march making the right company in this sector a sure blue chip and a darling of prudent investors.