Government turns to private companies for smart city ideas

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To fine-tune its most ambitious project, the government is holding talks with private firms to come up with new ideas for the smart cities proposal.

According to sources in the urban development ministry, corporates have been bringing in ideas for metros and the ministry has uploaded the first draft of the project online for feedback and scrutiny from the stakeholders. Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management, said it is working on ideas to decongest Delhi.

The sources in the ministry have indicated that the consultations would get over by the end of November after which the project will be taken to the Cabinet for approval. The project implementation will begin from the beginning of the next year.

“The idea of smart cities works on various levels, like Delhi needs to work on decongesting and energy saving. One of the most important elements of setting an effective, achievable plan for a smart city is to make that an inclusive, collaborative process. A smart city can’t be created by decree. It requires participation, input, and ideas from a wide range of stakeholders in the city. Public governance is naturally critical, but participation from the private sector and the citizens of the community are equally important,” said Anil Chaudhry, Country President and Managing Director of Schneider Electric India.

The concept of smart cities doesn’t entail creation of new cities, but improving the infrastructure of current cities to make them at par with the cities worldwide. While the urban development ministry has been engaging in talks for public-private partnership, it has also been keeping the local and Central authorities in the loop on the progress in planning the project.

Meanwhile, the ministry sources have indicated that various private firms as well as foreign governments have been showing a keen interest in 100 Smart Cities project.

Chaudhry added that creating smart cities is not an easy task. “We need to prepare habitat with a smart leadership. Further, there is a need to provide facilities for transport, water, disposal of waste, traffic security management, education, entertainment and employment opportunities, among others.”

The Union finance ministry has allocated Rs 7,060 crore for developing these cities as well, which will replace the present flagship urban renewal scheme JNNURM.

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