What it takes to be India’s best office district

Office district is a space that I refer to as comprising of, as the name suggests, offices and which is large enough to host 10’s of 1000’s of employees. Hyderabad has two such office districts currently – one in the Hitec City area and the other in Nanakramguda (Gachibowli) area.

Overview

Nanakramaguda office district is interesting since it hosts:

  1. Huge campuses of global companies like Amazon, Accenture, Infosys, Wipro, Microsoft, Virtusa, Honeywell, TCS, Capgemini and Broadcom.
  2. Medium sized offices for companies like Apple, Nvidia, GAP, ZF and Cognizant.
  3. Premier institutes like ISB and IIIT are on its edges.
  4. Financial District (Karvy, ICICI corporate building, NPCI, IRDA).

Telangana government manages the land allocation and infrastructure needs of this office district through a Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation – Industrial Area Local Authority (TSIIC-IALA).

Screenshot 2020-01-19 at 5.00.02 PM

Challenges

Like any developed space in India, the biggest problem faced in Nanakramaguda office district is with roads and public transport. Not that the current roads are bad, but they are not designed to handle the explosive growth this area is currently seeing. One of the sad outcome of such unplanned expansion is the one way pattern recently implemented on the service lane in Kokapet. 1000’s of crores of tax payers money was spent to build the ORR and its service lanes – and within 5 years, we realised the situation in Nanakramaguda / Kokapet area is all messed up and had to resort to one way roads.

Key challenges that we face everyday:

  1. ISB road is a 6 lane road that is the spine of this district. While it is well maintained, lack of services lanes and missing flyover makes it the most important but weakest link. Almost 90% of the traffic has to use this road and every touchpoint is a traffic chokepoint.
  2. Inner lanes that connect offices to ISB road are 4 laned. These get choked quickly during evening hours. Also, vehicles are parked on the same roads and this squeezes the space further.
  3. Lack of free left turns on any of the connection points between inner lanes and ISB road increases the wait time and chaos during evening hours.
  4. Public transport is very limited. While state transport department runs AC and non-AC buses, their occupancy is limited and has done very little to reduce the number of private vehicles.

Proposed solutions


Dedicated bus lanes (can be implemented in just 1 week): Road from IIIT Junction to ORR (ISB Road) and Manikonda to Gowlidoddi (via Wipro Junction) must have one lane converted to dedicated bus/van lane. This will help in faster movement of public transport vehicles and incentivises others commuters to shift to public transport. Main reason why people do not take public transport is the major problem of standing inside a congested TSRTC bus and then getting stuck in traffic jams on top of that. Bangalore is already trying this dedicated lane concept (though struggling to enforce) but Hyderabad can implement this better and be a nation leading city. 


Free left turns to enter and exit ISB road (can be implemented in 1 month) :  Inner lanes should have a free left lane when they connect to ISB main road. This will need increasing the width of these roads at the junction points. But the big advantage of doing this is that the junctions will start to choke far less.


Satellite parking facilities (can be implemented in 2 months): There are 4 main entry routes to this office district – (1) From IIIT Junction, (2) From Manikonda, (3) From Gowlidoddi/Nallagandla and (4) From Kothapet. TSIIC can create open spaces in these places that acts as public parking lots. From these public parking lots, buses and vans will ferry employees to office district. Think of this as T-Hub where TS government incubates startups. Similarly, in public transportation space, we should have the TS government act as a startup. There is no need for long term investment here – we can use open spaces temporarily for 6 months. Based on the success, investment can be made on building permanent parking structures. Gopanpally Thanda and Kothapet are places that can be used for such public parking setup. You can even use the TSIIC land which is on the edges of office district.

I understand that the Government can make money in the shorter term by congesting a small space with more and more offices. But related infrastructure will not get any space and hence the whole area will start to fall apart. The troubles you are seeing in Hitec City area are an example of what goes wrong when we do not leave enough space for roads, parking and public transport. Bangalore ORR is another really bad example where it takes people 30 minutes just to get out of the IT office parks. 


Signal free ISB road (can be implemented in 12 months) :  Wipro junction is congested to the hilt and there is absolutely no way you can solve the problem right at the junction. Solution lies a little away from the junction. 

Need is for 2-laned U-turn flyovers on the ISB road. These are required in 2 places : (1) Near Varun motors and (2) Near Infosys/ISB main gate. Building these flyovers will cause the least disruption to traffic and land acquisition may also not be an issue as vacant space is available in both spots. Wipro junction can then be made signal free and the ISB main road itself will see smoother traffic since only left-turns will be allowed to exit or enter the main road.

What citizens must do

Proposals to address these challenges have to be relentlessly pursued by citizens. TSIIC-IALA, GHMC, Traffic Police and other authorities will continue to look into their own specific areas and will not be able to solve our issues. Even when they attempt to do solve, their steps will involve building some long flyovers which will take years to build and will not solve much (just look what happened with the multi grade separator built at Rs 108 Crores near Mindspace). The other step they will implement, which is anyway required but not sufficient, is to open up more roads that connect office traffic to ORR service lanes. While this will help ease up situation a bit, ORR service lanes will become the choking points.

I’m sure you are highly passionate to see solutions to pertinent infra issues we face today. Please share your thought on what else can be done that can turn Nanakramaguda into India’s best office district. You can leave your comments below or use the contact form in this website or tweet me @VijayIvaturi.

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