VISAKHAPATNAM: In a fresh step in the direction of turning Visakhapatnam into a Smart City, the Andhra Pradesh government signed a memorandum of understanding with US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) here Friday. USTDA director Leocadia I Zak signed the grant agreement with principal secretary for municipal administration and urban development R Karikal Valaven in the presence of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and US Ambassador to India Richard R Verma.
Under the agreement, the USTDA will support India’s ambitious goal of developing Smart Cities across the country and will advance Visakhapatnam’s efforts to make it more efficient and sustainable through the development of interconnected infrastructure, communications and data systems.
On the occasion, AECOM signed a contract with the state government to prepare a master plan for developing Vizag into a Smart City. In association with IBM and KPMG, AECOM will undertake this work to enable Vizag commence its plans to invest in smart, efficient infrastructure. The AECOM, the IBM and the KPMG will provide Vizag with a planning framework and development strategy for several high-priority investment projects for smarter urban development.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines, Leocadia Zak said that the Agency would grant $1.4 million towards preparing the master plan and an equal amount of fund will be pooled by the local administration from the government as well as private agencies. She said that the master plan would be prepared as per the aspirations of Vizag citizens who emphasised on disaster management system, drinking water, energy (electricity) and public transport.
“We are proud to partner with the Andhra Pradesh government that will play vital role in advancing one of India’s highest economic development priorities. By bringing together the right private sector expertise and a committed partner, the opportunities for growth are limitless,” she added. The USTDA is extending support in the aftermath of the agreement between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work together for developing Smart Cities across India.
On the occasion, CM asked the US delegation to provide the best master plan and technology so that the government implement them to develop Vizag as a Smart City. He pointed out that AP was ranked second among the states in terms of the ease of doing business by World Bank in India and promised to extend necessary support to the US investors.
“After suffering severe damage due to cyclone Hudhud, Vizag has recovered within a short span and hosted major events like CII Partnership Summit and International Fleet Review 2016 without any hurdles. It has potential to become the first Smart City of India,” CM said. He felt that city’s selection among the top 20 cities under Smart Cities Challenge, will help it garner the Central government funding and boost its endeavours to become a Smart City.
Municipal Administration minister P Narayana, Visakhapatnam MP K Haribabu, Chief Secretary SP Tucker, special chief secretary Sam Bob, IT secretary GS Phani Kishore and others were present.