India begins urban renewal with first smart city

Indian government begins urban renewal with smart city development in Gujarat ahead of expected population boom, a forecasted population of 814m in 2050
The Indian government is working on urban generation, such as the smart city development in Gujarat, ahead of an expected population boom of 814m people by 2050

In South Asia, India is building its first smart city in the state of Gujarat as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for a more urbanized India where 100 smart cities are to be built by 2022.

The smart city, known as the Gujurat International Finance Tec-City, located in Gandhinagar in the country’s western state of Gujarat is anticipated to attract private investment in order to modernize public services.

Some of the key areas that will be addressed include ensuring the continuous supply of water and electricity, advanced health facilities, reliable transportation systems, wi-fi enabled zones, effective garbage collection and treatment of garbage and sewage.

Thus far, the smart city, still in its very early stages, currently boasts modern underground infrastructure and two office blocks.

Investment in smart cities

The smart city project forms part of the Indian government’s programme for urban renewal with the population steadily increasing to 814 million people by 2050 up from the present 400 million.

The National Institute of Urban Affairs, which is an institute for research, capacity building and information dissemination in urban development, is assisting the Indian Government to set guidelines for new smart city developments.

Jagan Shah, director of the National Institute of Urban Affairs, commented: “Most [Indian] cities have not been planned in an integrated way.”

Shah added that the challenge in urban development is the “lack of experts” to make large-scale projects work and attractive to get buy-in from private investors.

“To get the private sector in, there is a lot of risk mitigation that needs to happen because nobody wants a risky proposition,” said Shah.

India has reportedly allocated 60 billion rupees (US$962million) in its annual federal budget for the financial year, which begins on April 1.

Key parties participating in the government’s urban renewal and smart city effort will be private organisations and partnerships with state governments and local urban bodies, which will have to “undertake certain reforms” to be eligible to be part of the smart city project,” reports Reuters.

India-Germany smart city partnership

At Hannover Messe, taking place in Germany this week, Essel Group, an Indian conglomerate announced its partnership with three German companies including FeCon GmbH, Passavant and Schneider Electric to assist smart city efforts in India.

FeCon GmbH will assist Essel in developing and manufacturing wind turbines in India, as well as a power station and grid equipment for wind and solar energy.

The MoU signed with Passavant Energy and Environment (PE&E) will provide their expertise and technology for municipal waste water, sludge water, and industrial waste water treatment.

Essel had also signed a letter of intent to develop smart city projects in India.

Ashok Agarwal, CEO of Essel Infraprojects, said: “We are glad to announce our alliance with Schneider, FeConGmBH and Passavant Energy and Environment GmBH.

“… This will put us on the fast track in delivering on our commitment to produce 12,500MW of solar energy and 4,000MW of wind energy in India in the coming year as well as in establishing Essel as a major player in the €7.5 billion market for waste water management in India.”

He added: “Our MoU with German partners will also provide a fillip to the ‘Make in India’ movement envisaged by our prime minister and will put Essel at the forefront in realizing his vision for smart cities in India.”