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Central government to invite bids for smart cities soon

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of building smart cities looks set to start taking shape within the current financial year, as the central government has decided to invite bids for Dholera investment region in Gujarat in the next three months and for integrated industrial townships in Greater Noida and Vikram Udyogpuri in Madhya Pradesh along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) by March next year.

According to Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation CEO Talleen Kumar, a number of countries including Germany, the UK, the USA and Korea have shown interest to participate in the industrial townships. Japan is providing support of $4.5 billion in the first phase of these projects through lending by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). The government is also likely to seek bids for Shendra Bidkin industrial zone in Maharashtra by the middle of 2015.

An industry consultation workshop last month saw participation from companies including Oracle, Microsoft, TCS, Cisco, Accenture and L&T, among others. Modi has promised 100 smart cities and industrial corridors to make India a manufacturing hub. In his Independence Day address, he urged countries to ‘Come, Make in India’.

The Vikram Udyogpuri township will consist of automotive and auto components, IT/ITeS and engineering services industries and educational institutions. Greater Noida township, on the other hand, is envisaged to have new age sectors such as biotechnology, high-tech electronics industry, and research & development. It will also support key sectors such as telecom, electronics, automobile, food, pharma, healthcare and defence research. The move to invite bids is in keeping with the ruling BJP’s poll manifesto promise that work on freight corridors and attendant industrial corridors would be expedited.

About 35-40 percent of projects are trunk infrastructure, for which funds are provided by the DMIC Trust while the rest of the 60-65 per cent projects are being structured under the public-private partnership model. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion is currently discussing guidelines for smart cities to qualify a city to be called ‘smart’.

A smart city must have three of the five infrastructure requirements – energy management, water management, transport and traffic, safety and security and solid waste management. At the same time, it must have three of the five application domains – healthcare, education, inclusion, participative governance and community services.

Meanwhile, in the Chennai-Bangalore industrial corridor, JICA has taken up master planning for three of the eight nodes – Punderi (Karnataka), Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Tumkur (Karnataka). Japan has also shown interest in setting up industrial parks in India, on lines of Chinese industrial parks.

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