I firmly believe that in days to come the cities would compete fiercely to attract and retain talents. Cities are increasingly becoming the axis of growth for any economy and it is but natural that they would compete with each other to attract business investments which will enable them to create employment and improve overall standard of life.

While business and regulatory environment would be important to I think the kind of human capital which a city attracts would be the ultimate differentiating factor. A city which offers quality intellectual and cultural engagement to its residents along with good infrastructure would then be the frontrunner to attract and retain good talents. This is also precisely the reason why I believe that cities like Kolkata, Lucknow, and Patna etc. have the potential to lead the next phase of our growth.

I know many of you would have smirk on your faces as most of these cities (especially Patna) do not even offer basic necessities to its residents as of now. But that does not actually put them out of the race – the only rider is that these cities would have to work extra hard to attract quality human capital. The past experience does not enthuse much confidence in our civic administrations though. Politicians and administrators have often promised us moon but reality check provides a different picture – Mamata Di promised to turn Kolkata into London (the city has yet not taken a step towards that goal); Patna was to be transformed into Paris – according to some it resembles Venice more during the rainy season!! While the past looks weak one should not lose hope of future – these cities only require correct vision and proper execution to come through.

I am a native of Patna and want to see it compete with the major cities of the country (and in foreseeable future even world) to attract best people to become its residents. I want it to be much more proactive in engaging the people both culturally and intellectually – it is a long way to go and the city has to take the first steps immediately. I am making a case for one of my ideas in this regard.

The idea came to me while having a discussion (over mails) with a leading environmentalist of the city. We were discussing my proposed idea of planting more trees across the city when he suggested that if the honorable High Court delineates 1000 acres from the land emerging from Ganges (due to its changed course) for the greenery then the city can have another 'huge' lung for its citizen. He even attached the satellite image to show the area and compared it with the size of the historic Gandhi Maidan (which looked miniscule in comparison. I am attaching the latest satellite image of the same). Patna'ites rue that the Ganges has moved away from the city. If the river cannot be brought nearer to the city, can't we take the city to the river?

Patna Vision

It is because of this I liked the idea – however, I thought that those 1000 acres can be used for much more apart from providing greenery to its citizen. It can become the cultural landmark of the city as well as the state. I am outlining my vision below (basing my assumptions on the fact that High Court delineates 1000 acres for such special purposes. This area can then be demarcated into various zones):

Zone 1

Several travelers have documented the beauty of ancient Patna or Pataliputra to be more precise. Can we recreate the glory of ancient Pataliputra by building a mini 'heritage' city?

1. Patna does not boast of many luxurious accommodations. A luxurious 5 star hotel akin to a palace of ancient times (a mix of architecture of ancient Magadha empires can be used) along the banks of river Ganges can come up in this proposed city. This could be hot spot for foreigners and high and mighty visiting the city.

2. Not far away from this hotel, the administration can come up with budget accommodations (like the dwellings of normal people of ancient times) to complete the feel. While it would provide quality accommodation to budget conscious visitors, it would also ensure the feel of ancient city with king's palace and residences of common people.

3. There have been talks of setting up Patna Haat similar to Delhi Haat. What better place to set up a market promoting the rich heritage, art and culture of the state than a place representing the glory of our existence? There is a business sense in setting up the Haat in the city as it would be in the close proximity of high potential customers (visitors/tourists boarding at the accommodation provided in this 'heritage' city).

4. Administration can also have a 'Food Street' set up within the confines of this city catering to all the tastes and especially promoting cuisines of the state/region.

5. Ancient Patna (Pataliputra) was known for its Boulevard – This 'Pataliputra' should also be planned in similar fashion keeping in consideration the representation of the ancient city.

6. Proposed Land Use: 200 acres - Remaining Land: 800 acres

Zone 2

Patna does not have many sources of outdoor entertainment – we do not have an amusement/water park. This place is ideally suited for a water theme park. With the proximity to Ganges, water sports can also become a part of various attractions that could be offered in the theme park. Bangalore's Wonder La is built in approximately 156 acres. Patna can manage in 150. (Proposed Land Use: 150 acres Remaining Land: 650 acres)

Zone 3

Another zone could be used to create a World Class Cultural Complex promoting art and Culture.

1. I believe Patna should have a multi-screen auditorium complex like Nandan in Kolkata. As a state sponsored auditorium it can act as a catalyst in promoting awareness for films. It can screen world classics at reasonable rates for the benefit of cine-lovers of the city. Patna Film Festival can shift its venue to this place in days to come and probably become an important destination for global cinema.

2. Within the Cultural complex itself, there should be an open air theatre for various performances by local artists.

3. If we can have a state of art auditorium (Rangalaya) for the staging of plays, it would be a big boost to the theatre culture in the state. Not only this, if developed in the model of Kodak theatre etc., it can be a host to various cultural events also.

4. Also I think Patna lacks in providing a world class exhibition centre/art gallery to the artists of the state and elsewhere to showcase their work and such a facility should be a part of this cultural complex.

5. Proposed Land Use: 100 acres Remaining Land: 550 acres

Zone 4

Patna needs quality space to organize various events, fairs, expos etc. A facility like the Pragati Maidan in Delhi can well be developed to facilitate such events. So we can have our annual book fair shifted from Gandhi Maidan to this place apart from events like trade fair etc. This will not only provide quality experience to the visitors but would make exhibitors happy as well. Proposed Land Use: 100 acres Remaining Land: 450 acres

Zone 5

A separate area at the periphery with separate entrance and clear demarcation from the rest of the facilities could be developed for holding political rallies, dharnas and similar events. Gandhi Maidan has been the venue for such activism for long – it is time that we give 'life' back to this sprawling lawn by taking all the stress off it. Proposed Land Use: 50 acres Remaining Land: 400 acres

Zone 6

The remaining 400 acres could be used to create an 'alternative' lung for the city. This land should be developed as a green zone with adequate arrangement for proper maintenance. It can be developed on the lines of the Central Park or we can have a different model altogether. With such sprawling mass of greenery Patna would start fetching brownie points from its citizens. Proposed Land Use: 400 acres

Some of you may have noticed that for some of the zones (practically for all the zones) I have proposed land usage which can be considered much more than what is required for efficient development. I have done this purposely to allow development of landscapes, greenery i.e. in nutshell breathing spaces. Thus if one would consider the overall greenery in the proposed hub, it would be over 500 acres.

Potential Hits:

1. Such a cultural hotspot has not been developed in any city of India – it would certainly add to the 'charm' of the city

2. It would allow the residents to come out and engage themselves culturally and intellectually

3. It would give Patna another landmark. If great architecture is used then who knows we can have something as iconic as the 'Opera House' in Sydney from this facility

4. This proposed facility along with the Ganga Drive and the proposed renovation of the Ghats would integrate the Ganges with the city like never before. The bonding would hopefully result in the nurturing of another great culture in near future

I believe such an intervention can change the course of Patna. It would require experts to conduct the feasibility study for such a proposition but to me such an idea sounds exciting. Also, though the quantum of investment required would be high, I am sure the government could take the Public Private Partnership route to come up with such a Cultural Hub.