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India moves on its smart city program

The government selected 83 smart city initiatives to be implemented in 20 initial cities

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched a number of smart city initiatives under his government’s Smart Cities Mission program.

The government said 83 smart city initiatives will be implemented in 20 cities in an initial phase of the nationwide program. The 20 selected cities are Bhuvaneswar, Ludhiana, Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalput, Visakhapatnam, Solapur, Dhavangiri, Indore, the New Delhi area, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belgaum, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai and Bhopal.

The government confirmed the initial 83 projects will require a total investment of INR 17.7 billion ($262.5 million). The participating cities have proposed INR 480 billion in total investment for area development and pan-city solutions. The cities have also proposed public-private partnerships for the initiatives. Ten of the 20 cities proposed to invest INR 85.2 billion under the PPP model.

Modi also launched the Smart Net Portal, which is designed to enable cities to share ideas and source solutions for various issues during the implementation. The Indian government has urged the 20 smart cities selected in the first round of the competition to seek bankable projects for obtaining loan assistance from the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the Brics Development Bank.

In June 2015, India launched the Smart Cities Mission as a nationwide initiative to select 100 smart city projects. The government said it has a vision of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernizing the existing mid-sized cities. The Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities.

Some of the selected cities are already making progress towards the execution of the smart city initiatives. The Jaipur Smart Mission Limited selected Spanish firm Epista as project management consultant for the execution and implementation of its smart city project. During the next two years, the Spanish firm is set to help local authorities in planning, designing, developing and monitoring smart city projects.

The program also presents business opportunities for infrastructure vendors. Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei are already paving the way to capture business opportunities in this field.

Last year, ZTEsoft, the software subsidiary of ZTE, signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of India’s Gujarat state to collaborate on the development of smart cities projects. Under terms of the agreement, ZTEsoft and Gujarat plan to target locations to initially launch a trial. ZTEsoft also announced plans to invest around $78 million in attendant projects in India between 2015 and 2020.

Meanwhile, Huawei recently said it was set to kick off a number of smart city projects in India in collaboration with partners, targeting areas like public safety. The Chinese vendor said the deployment of smart city projects in the Asian nation would progress at a moderate pace.

Other vendors including Ericsson, Nokia and Cisco are also targeting smart city projects in India.

Ericsson recently won a contract to install 15,000 smart meters in Assam over the next three years for a public sector power company. Nokia confirmed negotiations with a number of cities for the development of smart city initiatives, while Cisco is currently working in smart city projects in 12 to 13 cities out of the list of 20 initially selected by the government.

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