Extensive construction on the Mumbai skyline, November 23, 2008. Arko Datta, Reuters

The $90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor has India building 24 brand new cities.

India’s got an industrial revolution in mind. It’s a 30-year plan, spread over 24 brand new cities in a 920-mile ribbon between Delhi and Mumbai. The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, a $90 billion project, is being jointly funded by the governments of India and Japan, which foresee an influx of tens of millions of jobs within the next three decades.

The project was recently approved by the Commerce and Industry Ministry, and will head next to the Council of Ministers, the collective decision-making body of the government of India. If all goes according to plan, it could bring about a massive change to India’s industrial and urban makeup.

The corridor itself would be a high-speed freight rail line and a six-lane freeway connecting seven of the brand new cities, the first phase of this combined industrialization-urbanization project. Three ports and six airports will also be constructed during this initial phase. The first seven cities are expected to be built by 2018, and each is being planned to house more than 2 million people. An estimated 180 million people—about 14 percent of India’s population—will be affected by the project.

In the works since 2006, the idea was inspired by the industrial expansion underway in China. Indian officials have their eyes on expanding manufacturing's contribution to the GDP from 16 percent to a whopping 25 percent by 2025.

At the same time, India has also recognized this grand plan as an opportunity for a new kind of citymaking, metros built with an emphasis on infrastructure to support vast populations. Modern staples like underground utilities and sewage systems, paved roads, cycle tracks, and parks are all in the works. Dedicated bus and light rail corridors are also planned for each city, with nearly every housing unit hoped to be built within a 10-minute walk of a transit stop.

The Indian Institute for Human Settlements estimates that India’s urban population will increase from about 350 million today to more than 800 million by 2050. The planners behind the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor are hoping to get ahead of this urban shift by developing the cities—and the urban-based economic drivers—that will continue the country’s rise as one of the world’s fastest developing countries.

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