SINGAPORE:Singapore, which has already made its presence felt in taking upprojects in Gujarat and Delhi, is looking at the possibility of playing a role in development of smart cities, the buzz word in the present NDA dispensation.
As the city state believes its core strength lies in planning infrastructure in cities for future keeping in view the requirements in the long term, the country is looking at offering its expertise which it had acquired through decades of experience in transforming slums into modern cities buzzing with economic activity.
In an interaction in Singapore with visiting media persons from Andhra Pradesh, Khoo Teng Chye, executive director of the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), the apex planning wing of the Singapore government, said they are looking at the smart cities projects which India is keen about.
The CLC, which has been busy of late preparing the second phase of the detailed master plan for the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh, wants to help India by offering its knowledge and ability to make fool-proof planning to develop smart cities that would be able to take head on the challenges the future would pose with people of varied backgrounds, skills and education moving to the cities in huge numbers in search of employment and economic activities. The challenges include providing utilities, housing, mobility and technology beside better quality of life.
The CLC has already built a reputation for itself in India by executing Sabarmati Riverfront project in 185 hectare on both sides of the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad. As much as 86 per cent of the land was retained for public utility, including walkways, community centres, an informal market and a “cultural mile”, a precinct for culture, art and entertainment. “In 2012, KPMG named the project as one of the 100 most innovative projects globally,” a CLC official said. The CLC also has delivered the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) for Ahemdabad.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation set up Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd to implement private partnerships for building, maintenance and operations.
Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam, while interacting with media persons, touched on Singapore’s experience in dealing with India and executing projects. He made it clear that Singapore would take part in the development process that the nation is going through. He outlined the works the Singapore has taken up in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi. For any project, including smart cities, to succeed, skill development is a sine qua non. This is one area the island nation is helping India out. Shanmugam said that setting up skill development centres and training officers was an expensive exercise in which the city state might not get anything in return. When Singapore sets up skill development centre, it has to depute its highly qualified personnel to work in the country where the project is being executed. To this extent, Singapore suffers since its manpower is deployed elsewhere. And yet it was doing it since Singapore is looking at India’s success as it would offer spin-off benefits to Singapore.
Singapore might be taking part in tourism ventures in North Eastern parts of the country which is an economic activity providing jobs and infusing money into the economic system. Singapore’s companies at present are taking a hard look at various possibilities in tourism sector in North East since this is one area of economic activity that might fit in the concept of smart cities in India, officials felt.