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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where from would you get smart people for the smart cities? Palash Biswas

Where from would you get smart people for the smart cities?

Palash Biswas

Here you are!The digital nation has to get foreign territories and the latest brand equity of these foreign territories is defined as smart city as privatisation is referred as disinvestment and divestment , as black money recycle is known as FDI,as ponzi economics is glorified as minimum governance of decontrolling and regulation.

'Smart leadership and smart people are essential pre-requisites for making cities smart' asserted the Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M.Venkaiah Naidu . He elaborated on the attributes of smart leadership and smart people while addressing the "National Conclave of States/UTs on Smart Cities" attended by the Ministers and Principal Secretaries in New Delhi .

Government is planning to set up 100 smart cities across the country that will provide all modern amenities, education and employment opportunities.

Mind you,Unanimously welcoming the Smart City initiative of the centre, states have demanded technical help to prepare project reports and higher financial assistance to execute the scheme.

West Bengal claims to get ten of the PM declared smart cities while anti SEZ,anti landacquisition movement installed the PPP government in Bengal which is defined popularly as MAA Maanush Sarkar ,which is indulged in Ponzi fraud top to bottom.

Does it mean the smart people needed for smart India`s smart cities should be experts of ponzi economics as well?

Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu reviewed the suggestions and views from states and Union Territories expressed at the national conclave held in New Delhi and directed officials to examine the suggestions in detail.

He has also asked the concerned officials to prepare a proposal for discussion at an inter-ministerial meeting where Ministers of Finance and Defence, Highways and Surface Transport, Railways, Power, Environment and Forests are likely to attend.

Reiterating the importance of smart leadership in developing smart cities, Mr Naidu said he would write to all the Chief Ministers on the need for proper decision making to enhance revenues of urban local bodies and improving urban governance.

States have made ten broad suggestions for developing Smart Cities including seeking flexibility in implementation, capacity building, higher central assistance in view of the resource constraints of urban local bodies and expeditious clearances by the Centre, said a senior Urban Development official.

Higher level of Viability Gap Funding with respect to solid waste management and water supply projects, capital expenditure to be borne by central government since private operators can only manage the operations and maintenance with utility charges and Special Purpose Vehicles to be created for executing the projects are some of the suggestions made by states at the conclave.

Some states referred to the difficulties associated with adoption of Public Private Partnership model with respect to some urban projects in view of the complexities involved and levying of user charges.

It is very clear that the project is once again PPP mdel Gujarati for which the Prime Swayam Sevak has ensured free flow of yen thanks to new strategic partnership with Japan beside the existing one,led by USA,UK and Israel.

Varanasi, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents in the Lok Sabha, will be developed into a 'smart city' by using the experience of Kyoto, the 'smart city' of Japan, under a pact signed here on Saturday.

A partner city MoU was signed by Indian ambassador Deepa Wadhwa and Kyoto mayor Daisaka Kadokawa at a ceremony witnessed by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

Hindustan times reports;

Delhi could get two of the smart cities — a brand new one in the city's outskirts to be developed by the Delhi Development Authority and a second in New Delhi Municipal Council area.

This has been proposed in the first blueprint of Modi government's ambitious project to develop 100 smart cities across India. Drafted by the urban development (UD) ministry, the concept note proposes to include 44 cities with a population between 1 to 4 million under the scheme.

As first reported by HT on August 27, the UD ministry's concept note has estimated an annual investment of Rs. 35,000 crore for developing the 100 smart cities.

However, the note stops short of elaborating on how the funds would be generated. The note, which was put online for public discussion, has knocked off parts from an earlier draft which proposed a host of measures for raising funds from the public.

It says that a large part of the financing for smart cities will have to come from private sector and mentions broadly mentions imposing of user charges for utilities and a betterment levy for "enhancing the resource pool" without specifying how much fund would be generated from these measures.

Some of the basic criteria proposed for selecting cities includes cities which have an approved Master Plan, which can commit to provide free right of way for laying optic fibre networks among others.

The note says that a smart city would have facilities ranging from uninterrupted power and water supply, online delivery of all public services, and an effective public transport system among others.

Bengal picks smart city contenders


Calcutta, Aug. 16: The Bengal government has identified 10 locations in the state to be developed as smart cities and would make its representation to the Centre for development of these regions.

The development comes at a time the state government has unveiled an urban policy that seeks to promote growth of the real estate sector in the state.

"The central government has proposed the development of 100 smart cities. We have identified 10 locations in the state that could be developed as smart cities," said Debashis Sen, principal secretary in the urban development department of the Bengal government. He was speaking today at the sixth annual convention of NAR-India, the apex body of real estate brokers in the country.

Sen said the locations identified by the state includes New Town — Rajarhat, Bolpur, Durgapur, Kalyani, Baruipur, Raghunathpur, Jaigaon, Phulbari, Gangasagar and Debanandapur.

These smart cities in essence are existing mid-sized cities or satellite towns of large cities, which would be modernised to cater to urban housing and industrial requirements in the future.

Sen said these cities could be developed to provide modern infrastructure along with information technology-based civic amenities.

"These locations are identified on the basis of where urban population in Bengal is going to grow," said Sen, adding that the state government was working on the details.

The Union finance ministry has budgeted Rs 7,060 crore in the current year for development of smart cities. '

Real estate developers, however, said more clarity was required on the nature of infrastructure in these smart cities and the role of the government and that of real estate companies in developing such cities.

Alapan Bandhopadhyay, principal secretary in the housing and transport department of the Bengal government, said the state was exploring the provision of allowing faster clearances of housing projects even though it would be difficult to permit critical clearances such as fire on a single-window basis without physical inspection.

He said the state government was looking for inputs in this context from national bodies such as Credai and NAR-India.

DNA reports:

The 100 smart cities project, which defines the grand ambition of the Narendra Modi government may not fully come to fruition but about 10 projects are likely to start during the tenure of this government. The target is to have 30 cities in 15 years.

The project itself is conceived as a bypass to cut through the morbid mess that cities like Mumbai have become. The finance ministry has earmarked Rs7,000 crore for smart city projects this fiscal.

To ensure that every states gets a share, the ministry will pick up sub cities inside the state capitals to develop into smarter models. Besides state capitals, cities that have a religious pilgrimage circuits including Shirdi, Varanasi, Amritsar, Allahabad and Tirupati will also be given the smarter design. Some of the industrial towns will also be included in the smart city project. While all the states have been lobbying to get a bigger scoop of cities for themselves, the ministry has received a concrete proposal from the West bengal government to create New Kolkata as a smart project.

Kochi smart city being developed by Smart City Dubai in partnership with the government of Kerala is slated to be the first operational smart city in the country and the Dubai company is likely to develop another smart city in Madhya Pradesh after chief ministerShivraj Singh Chouhan met top officials of the company in Dubai on Friday.

"The smart city model has to be self sustainable with civic infrastructure. The city will also have its own IT network linking every resident of the city," said a senior officer of theUrban development ministry. Aspects of energy management, water management, transport and traffic, safety and security and solid waste management will be covered. The smart cities will have its own health care facility with education hub and community service centres.

Not all cities will be new cities. Several old cities will be brought into the smart circuit. In the case of bigger cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Bhopal, sub cities in a radius of 15km will be developed into smart cities.

The ministry of urban development is yet to finalise the design and definition of a smart city, but at level 1, Gujarat's GIFT looks like the ideal Indian smart model. The GIFT city of Gujarat was conceptualised by Narendra Modi during his tenure as chief minister. The greenfield project is being constructed on 500 acres of land between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in Gujarat. Divided into three phases, the city will have a global IT hub, a Special Economic Zone and a residential township.

IL&FS has invested close to Rs900 crore so far in GIFT City, according to RK Jha, the CEO & MD of GIFT City. He also said that the remaining Rs600 crore were raised by GIFT through internal accruals and debt.

"We have sold some 10 million sqft space in GIFT City project so far. The funds received are being invested in the project," he said.

"We have plans to develop 62 million sqft of built up area in GIFT City in three phases by 2023. We were targeting 10-12 million sqft in the first phase of the project, which we have already achieved. The second phase of the project will commence in March next year," Ramakant Jha, CEO & MD of GIFT City Limited, the project developer, told dna.

The project aims to create 1 million direct and indirect jobs on completion in 2023. GIFT City Limited is a equal joint venture between Gujarat government and IL&FS. Jha said that they have invested Rs1,500 crore in the project so far.

"The total investment will be to the tune of Rs50,000 crore, which includes Rs10,000 crore in infrastructure development and Rs30,000 crore in construction of buildings," he said.

On completion, GIFT City will be home to 120 buildings, which will be 70 metre to 250 metre tall. The project will be spread over 886 acre land."We also propose to have one building, which will be 400 metre high, but that will be in the third and final phase. Earlier, central financial institutions were not keen to take up space in GIFT City for political reasons. Now, that will not be the case," he said.

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What are smart cities?


Construction workers at one of the earliest smart city projects in India in Kochi.

Construction workers at one of the earliest smart city projects in India in Kochi.

With everyone talking of the 100 smart cities announced in this year's budget, Anuj Puri takes a closer look

Across the world, the stride of migration from rural to urban areas is increasing. By 2050, about 70 per cent of the population will be living in cities, and India is no exception. It will need about 500 new cities to accommodate the influx.

Interestingly, urbanisation in India has for the longest time been viewed as a by-product of failed regional planning. Though it is inevitable, and will only change when the benefits of urbanisation overtake the costs involved, it is an opportunity for achieving faster growth.

With increasing urbanisation and the load on rural land, the government has now realised the need for cities that can cope with the challenges of urban living and also be magnets for investment. The announcement of '100 smart cities' falls in line with this vision.

A 'smart city' is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres. Though this may sound futuristic, it is now likely to become a reality as the 'smart cities' movement unfolds in India.

In a smart city, economic development and activity is sustainable and rationally incremental by virtue of being based on success-oriented market drivers such as supply and demand. They benefit everybody, including citizens, businesses, the government and the environment.

The origin

The concept of smart cities originated at the time when the entire world was facing one of the worst economic crises. In 2008, IBM began work on a 'smarter cities' concept as part of its Smarter Planet initiative. By the beginning of 2009, the concept had captivated the imagination of various nations across the globe.

Countries like South Korea, UAE and China began to invest heavily into their research and formation. Today, a number of excellent precedents exist that India can emulate, such as those in Vienna, Aarhus, Amsterdam, Cairo, Lyon, Málaga, Malta, the Songdo International Business District near Seoul, Verona etc.

In India

The cities with ongoing or proposed smart cities include Kochi in Kerala, Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Manesar in Delhi NCR, Khushkera in Rajasthan, Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Ponneri in Tamil Nadu and Tumkur in Karnataka. Many of these cities will include special investment regions or special economic zones with modified regulations and tax structures to make it attractive for foreign investment. This is essential because much of the funding for these projects will have to come from private developers and from abroad.


The concept is not without challenges, especially in India. For instance, the success of such a city depends on residents, entrepreneurs and visitors becoming actively involved in energy saving and implementation of new technologies. There are many ways to make residential, commercial and public spaces sustainable by ways of technology, but a high percentage of the total energy use is still in the hands of end users and their behaviour. Also, there is the time factor — such cities can potentially take anything between 20 and 30 years to build.

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Mint reports:

The ministry of urban development has prepared a draft concept note on the smart city scheme. The government had announced a plan to develop 100 smart cities to provide better amenities in urban areas. The 100 smart cities will include all state capitals and union territories. It will also comprise 44 cities in the population range of 1-4 million people, nine satellite cities with a population of 4 million or more, 10 cities that are of religious and tourist importance and 20 cities in the 0.5 to 1 million population range. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) will develop a smart city through a land pooling scheme as a demonstrative city. The New Delhi Municipal Corp. (NDMC) area is also being considered to demonstrate components of a smart city. Smart cities aim to provide reliable utility services, sanitation, solid waste management, storm water drainage, energy efficiency and improved access to information. The high-power expert committee on investment estimates that the annual fund requirement for smart cities will be Rs.35,000 crore. This estimate covers water supply, sewerage, sanitation and transport-related infrastructure. A large part of the funds will come from private investments. According to the scheme, this amount shall be covered by complete private investment or through public-private partnership. In the budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley had allocated Rs7,060 croreto develop 100 smart cities. The development of smart citiies was also a part of the Bharatiya Janata Party's election manifesto. "We welcome the initiative which is the need of the hour for the Indian economy. Cities are the growth enablers and current Indian cities are choking with the economic growth in India," said Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner, infrastructure and government services, at consultancy KPMG. Various states will have to submit proposals based on the reference framework to the central government. Minister for urban development Venkaiah Naidu will discuss the smart cities project with state development ministers on Friday.

Read more at:

Mr Arif Jamal posted this report:

NEW DELHI----'Smart leadership and smart people are essential pre-requisites for making cities smart' asserted the Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M.Venkaiah Naidu . He elaborated on the attributes of smart leadership and smart people while addressing the "National Conclave of States/UTs on Smart Cities" attended by the Ministers and Principal Secretaries here .

After broadly defining the concept of 'Smart Cities', Naidu spoke at length on the state of urban governance in the country and the imperative need to uplift urban life to a higher level. He said, effective urban governance requires smart leadership that is 'bold, initiative bearing, willing and able to take hard decisions like raising, if required and recovering cost of services, implement reforms in governance, prevent unauthorized constructions besides removing encroachments and take on mafia'. Regarding the people, he said, 'they should be alert, able to question, pay the cost of services, prevent fellow citizens from violating rules and demand their due.' Shri Naidu emphasized that only then the task of developing smart cities can be realized.

Taking advantage of the presence of ministers and officials from different states and Union Territories, Shri Venkaiah Naidu invited their attention to the inadequacies in the implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) that fell substantially short of physical and financial targets. He noted that the political leadership of urban entities at various levels failed to provide the required impetus to galvanize urban local bodies that adversely impacted implementation of JNNURM. Shri Naidu urged that this should not be allowed in respect of Smart Cities Project.

Shri Venakaiah Naidu broadly defined a Smart City as one that makes urban life comfortable and improves living standards through good governance, efficient health care services and education, 24 x 7 power and water supply, efficient transport, high quality sanitation, employment to the needy and robust cyber connectivity and benefits all irrespective of income, age and gender. 'The ultimate objective is building Wealthier, Healthier and Happier' cities, he said. He said the Draft Concept Note on Smart Cities made public would be revisited based on the suggestions/views of states/UTs and asked them to send their final views in a week's time. He made it clear that states/UTs/Cites which are willing to take smart/hard decisions alone will be qualified for inclusion in the Smart Cities project.

Reflecting on urbanization scenario,  Naidu said that at present 377 million people are living in urban areas of the country (31%). In the next 15 years, this will increase by another 157 millions and by another 500 millions by 2050, by when more than half of the country's population will be living in urban areas, for the first time. More than 70% of urban people live in 468 cities/towns with more than one lakh population. He said, this growing urbanization offered immense opportunities for converting it into 'engine of economic growth, since urbanization and economic development are interlinked. In support of this, the Minister said, though only 31% of the population lives in urban areas, they contribute over 60% of the country's GDP. It was in this context that the Prime Minister suggested building 100 Smart Cities besides improving amenities in other cities and towns.

Publish by Arif Jamal

On Wednesday, the ministry unveiled a 'Concept Note on Smart Cities' giving broad contours about smart cities and their related aspects like financing and selection criteria. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which was launched in 2005, had almost 40 per cent of its work incomplete at the time of its closure on March 31 this year.

"A smart city cannot have only a few hours of water supply a day, or electricity that goes off for several hours, or streets littered with garbage. The general appearance of the city has to be pleasing and clean. In Delhi, it is being proposed that the DDA will develop a new smart city through the land pooling scheme and in that, parts of the NDMC area may also be considered for demonstrating all the components of smart cities,'' Naidu added.

Using an average figure of 1 million people in each of the 100 smart cities, the High Power Expert Committee on Investment Estimates in urban infrastructure has assessed investment requirements for the services covered comes to Rs.7 lakh crore over 20 years. This translates into an annual requirement of Rs.35,000 crore. "A large part of the financing for smart cities will have to come from the private sector with the states/cities and central government only supplementing that effort," the document said.

A senior ministry official said that the ministry is deliberating on new models and various global cities in Korea, Canada, North America and some Nordic countries. The ministry has also started talking to states and asked them for proposals on which city they would nominate for the NDA's ambitious Smart City project.

"We're taking states along on this. A lot of state capitals and a few heritage and historic cities with a high spiritual value and tourism appeal have already made to the list,'' the official said. Most of these cities would thrive on high quality information accessible to citizens.

"A very important feature of all smart cities is good citizen access to information. Whether it be regarding city specific data or the measures being taken by municipal bodies or information relating to various service providers such as transport and similar information relevant for potential investors has to be conveniently available. This could be through multiple channels - internet, mobile apps, radio, TV, print media, etc,'' the official said.

In the Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had promised allocation of a sum of Rs.7,060 crore for the development of the smart cities.

Read more at:


The long and short of what we know about Modi's 100 smart cities

The government has allocated Rs 7,060 crore to the cities, but what will that money actually go towards?

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan · Jul 18, 2014 · 07:18 am

The grandiose promise of building 100 smart cities has been part of Modi's acche din vision from the outset, and it would have been surprising if the budget had not made some mention of it.

In the event, Jaitley did promise 100 cities to be built for what the Bharatiya Janata Party is calling the neo-middle class – those who have just emerged from above the poverty line and are striving to ensure they remain there.

Less promising was the amount he allocated to the project: Rs 7,060 crore, which is a little over Rs 70 crore per city. As with the Rs 100 crore club, the finance minister has insisted that this is simply seed money to get the projects going and more will be allocated once things have moved forward.

What are smart cities?

There's no simple definition for smart cities. The term encompasses a vision of an urban space that is ecologically friendly, technologically integrated and meticulously planned, with a particular reliance on the use of information technology to improve efficiency.

The Smart Cities Council, an industry-backed outfit that advocates the concept in India, describes them as cities that leverage data gathered from smart sensors through a smart grid to create a city that is livable, workable and sustainable.

What is smart about them?

According to the Smart Cities Council, all the data that is collected from sensors – electricity, gas, water, traffic and other government analytics – is carefully compiled and integrated into a smart grid and then fed into computers that can focus on making the city as efficient as possible.

This allows authorities to have real-time information about the city around them, and allows computers to attempt "perfect operations", such as balancing supply and demand on electricity networks, synchronising traffic signals for peak usage, and optimising energy networks.

Why do we need them?

India's is urbanising at an unprecedented rate, so much that estimates suggest nearly 600 million of Indians will be living in cities by 2030, up from 290 million as reported in the 2001 census.

Alongside the hordes of Indians go the jobs and the money as well: a McKinsey Global Institute study estimated that cities would generate 70% of the new jobs created by 2030, produce more than 70% of the Indian gross domestic product and drive a fourfold increase in per capita incomes across the country.

"The cost of not paying attention to India's cities is enormous," the MGI report said. "The speed of urbanisation poses an unprecedented managerial and policy challenge – yet India has barely engaged in a national discussion about how to handle the seismic shift in the makeup of the nation."

Are they going to be new cities?

In his budget speech, Jaitley listed out exactly why the government believes it needs to be spending money on 100 smart cities. He claimed that "unless new cities are developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people, the existing cities would soon become unlivable."

That said, he also made it clear that the Rs 7,060 crore allocation would not all go into setting up brand new cities. Instead, the aim is to build satellite towns near existing urban areas on the smart city template, upgrade existing mid-sized cities, and to build settlements along industrial corridors.

Which cities have been picked out?

At the moment 100 cities remains a tentative figure, with much still to be pinned down. The budget speech only officially identified cities along the Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Master Plan, which covers seven states. Although they weren't named in the budget, seven cities have also been named along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, some which would overlap with the Amritsar-Kolkata plan.

Officially, the budget only pointed out three cities in the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor: Ponneri in Tamil Nadu, Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Tumkur in Karnataka.

What about those cities that don't make the cut?

At a meeting regarding the smart cities in June, the urban development ministry secretary said that the focus will not be just 100 cities but all urban areas across the country. "There exists no valid reason to leave the 101st city in the process of development," he said.

The secretary, Sudhir Krishna, has asked the National Institute of Urban Affairs to work on the smart city project, based on a framework that covers overall smartness and sustainability. For now, though, the focus will be on a much smaller number of cities in states where conditions are amenable before the government even attempts to look at expanding to cover 100 urban areas.

Do we have any smart cities already (and who is building them)?

A quick Google search for India's "first smart city" produces more than 70,000 results, and many of them lead to different places. In Bangalore, Cisco is working to set up a smart grid-based Education City, where all the utilities will be integrated with data.

Outside Mumbai, the Lodha group has given IBM a contract to build all data systems in their Palava city project. Kochi has a special economic zone that seeks to replicate Dubai's smart city project. Gujarat has two projects, the Dholera urban area, which is part of the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, and the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, both of which have problems but are being touted as examples that could be scaled up across the country.

Who will pay for them?

Rs 70 crore per city will clearly not be enough, and even if more is added, it's unlikely the government will have the resources to pay for the cities. In the budget, the government announced that it was relaxing norms for foreign direct investment to make it easier for outside companies to invest in smart cities. In addition, India has spoken to France, Japan and Singapore about collaborating on the projects.

We welcome your comments at's-100-smart-cities

Girija PandeGirija Pande Contributor

I write on business trends in China, India and ASEAN.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


ASIA OUTLOOK 8/26/2014 @ 3:51AM 5,124 views

Building 100 Smart Cities In India, Can Singapore Seize This Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity?

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India's new BJP-led government has widely and correctly shown its desire to create 100 new smart cities in the country as satellite townships around the larger cities – many of which are along the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) – though not restricted to the area. Stretching over 1,000km, the corridor between Delhi and Mumbai is expected to garner over $90 billion of overseas investment to develop manufacturing zones, business parks and new smart cities along a dedicated rail freight corridor.

Urbanization challenge in India and China:

India is expected to see massive urbanization along the same lines of what we have seen in China, where urbanization crossed 50% last year and is projected to cross 75% in the next 5 years. Statistically more people live in cities globally than in rural areas. India is nearly a third urbanized in comparison, but this trend will accelerate as the economy grows, becomes more sophisticated and is in need of more skilled labor. Concomitantly, there is a greater need to improve agricultural productivity by lessening manpower on farms and transferring them to areas of higher productivity in industry, resulting in an overall growth in productivity in the economy. After all, assembling Apple iPhones creates higher added value than growing rice!

This massive migration to urban areas will be the defining feature of the Indian economy in the coming decade – very much in line with the urbanization happening all over the globe. Smart cities need multidimensional, integrative thinking, and will not happen organically. They can only result from a central planning authority. Without any state level intervention, existing cities will become unlivable and chaotic, given the scale of the migration expected. Consequently, new cities have to be set up – many around existing urban areas as satellite towns. This has additional advantages of clustering and benefits of scale in creation of all kinds of urban infrastructure needed for a smart city.

Creation of such new satellite cities need to be closely tied to the concepts of sustainability. This requires these new cities to be "smart," i.e. creating new types of transport systems to avoid congestion that is currently so rampant in many Asian towns, construction using low energy housing materials, newer water harvesting techniques and extensive use of IT systems on cloud in running various urban functions and the provision of e-government services to its citizens. Moreover, such cities should be self-sufficient in being able to create gainful employment for residents so that cross city travel is minimized.

Singapore advantage:

Many countries in the world are moving towards creating such cities. Singapore has widely experimented with and successfully created various smart green corridors/urban townships within its limited land area of around 700 sq km. Its transport systems, water management, extensive use of IT and land use planning is world class and has won many accolades over the years and placed it in the top leagues of well-planned smart and liveable cities. Even though it is one of the densest cities in the world, it has created an ambient living environment with parks and gardens around concentrated mini townships all connected with an excellent metro system, which has reduced road congestion.

The Chinese government has extensively utilized Singapore's skills in such urban planning. In the mid-nineties, it created a model business park-cum-city in a joint venture with Singapore at Suzhou, which became the model for new business parks around China. Thereafter, JVs were created via Singbridge (a consortium of major Singaporean companies) for an Eco-city in Tianjin and Knowledge City in Guangzhou. All of these are examples of smart cities created as satellite towns in highly urbanized environments with sustainability being the principle driver and ability to create employment at the same time. In India, a Singapore government company, Ascendas, has been at the forefront of creating state of the art IT and business parks which have been role models for such facilities in India since the mid-nineties. This experience should be leveraged further in India.

One way to fast track planning and construction of such smart cities is to include the private sector in India within a given framework for such new townships by the government. This would need to be specific to the creation of such smart cities in designated areas, so that existing and outdated laws do not become a barrier. These activities would need to be undertaken by approved consortia (consisting of experts in smart city planning/consulting groups/infrastructure and urban developers/IT experts), which would assist in conceptualizing, designing world class smart city clusters. Such consortia with well-known Singaporean partners with proven expertise in smart city planning and development, would bring the latest techniques and would additionally project manage the construction of such smart cities via well-known developers. Creating such consortia is a prerequisite to planning and project managing the creation of such world class sustainable townships. Using Singapore based urban planning groups is recommended given their experience in Asia and its closeness to India.

India is going down the path to manage its urbanization better via the creation of 100 smart cities. Singapore with its closeness to India and with relevant skills and experience in creation of smart and liveable cities in Asia is ideally positioned. What it needs to do is to boldly seize the moment.

Girija Pande is the executive chairman of Apex Avalon Consulting Pte ltd, Singapore, which is a joint venture with Avalon Consulting, India's largest consulting and analytics group. Mr. Pande is the former chairman of Tata Consultancy Services Asia Pacific. He has also recently co-authored a book on Indian businesses in China -The Silk Road Rediscovered, published by John Wiley Inc.

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