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It may be trite, but it cannot be denied: in ways demographic and economic, India is an elephant – and has been growing at a torrid pace. However, as its potential grows, so do its challenges. Now is the time for the government to implement sorely-needed social infrastructure outside urban areas, easing the pressure on its suffocated urban populations and providing for its best asset: its people.

As residents begin to spill past the Mumbai city limits, areas like the Eastern Mumbai District (EMD) will be invaluable in meeting their demand for livable spaces. Made up of Karjat, Khopoli, Neral, and Shelu, among others; the EMD boasts excellent road and rail connectivity to Mumbai and Pune–and soon air, as airport developments in Panvel and Pune continue. Due to its physical infrastructure and still-affordable land prices, the area is poised for dynamic growth–but needs social infrastructure such as schools, police and fire stations, and hospitals to be the catalyst. A combination of public and private investment, domestic and foreign, as well as stable and honest local governance is necessary to oversee this change.

The challenges are great, but India must anchor its housing developments with the bedrocks on which they rest. In doing so, wide-scale affordable housing developments will transform from sexy pictures in a brochure to vibrant, healthy and sustainable communities.

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