‘Digital India initiatives playing major role in smart cities mission’

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New Delhi: Digital India initiatives and schemes by the government like Aadhaar, digital lockers and computerisation of land records, are gaining momentum in the country and playing a major role in the smart cities mission, said P.P. Chaudhary, Minister of State, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of the 4th edition of the Smart Cities Summit here. China is the country partner at the summit.

Aiming to take the government’s smart cities initiative to the next level, over 1,500 global and national policymakers, financiers and technologists, along with over 25 city and state representatives, have come together at the 4th Smart Urbanation: Convention and Expo.

The three-day summit has been organised by ASAPP Info Global Group and the India-China Economic and Cultural Council in partnership with the Smart Cities Council India.

By June 2017, some 510 smart city projects with a total investment of Rs 20,669 crore are expected to take off.

Pratap Padode, Founder Director, Smart Cities Council India, said the country needs to build 700 to 900 million square metre per annum (equal to one Chicago every year) and requires 350 to 400 km of Metro lines annually.

“India and China share a similar context in terms of urban population and infrastructure challenges. In order to meet these challenges, China was among the first few countries to have successfully implemented the concept of smart cities and develop the requisite infrastructure to meet the urban challenges,” said Mohammad Saqib, Secretary General, India-China Economic and Cultural Council.

Speaking about Chinese investment in India, Deepak Bagla, Managing Director and CEO, Invest India, said: “From 2000 till 2015, the total investment was $1.6 billion. However, since then, it has zoomed up to $30 billion.”

Liu Jinsong, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of China, stressed on replicating the model of century-old cities that existed in India such as Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. According to him, the current planners or authorities must think about building medium and small cities, rather than large ones, as city management would be more effective.

The summit witnessed participation from city commissioners from over 25 cities, city CEOs, urban planning consultants, international Smart City experts from the US, China, Korea and senior officials from companies like Microsoft, IBM, Philips, Ola, Intel, Tata Projects, Schneider, Hikvision, Bechtel, Thomson Reuters, Mahindra Lifespaces, HCC, and Alstom, among others.

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