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Greenfield smart cities will increase efficiency

Greenfield smart cities will increase efficiency

<p>In an exclusive interview with INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY, Ajay Pandey, Managing Director and Group CEO of GIFT City, outlines how an ideal greenfield city should be. According to him, while envisaging a greenfield city, authorities must address adequate and potable water supply, assured electricity supply and sanitation, including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport.</p> What are the important elements that need to be undertaken while planning a greenfield smart city?<br /> To keep up with the growing population of India, future-looking urban planning has to be functional with changing times and lifestyles. One of the best ways to achieve this is through greenfield smart city issues like infrastructure, sustainability etc. These issues can be addressed from scratch and taken into account the changing urban lifestyles. While undertaking the planning for a smart city, it is important to put emphasis on green energy and self-sustainable model for city maintenance. Some of the core features that a smart city must address are adequate and potable water supply, assured electricity supply, and sanitation, including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, general housing as well affordable housing and state-of-the-art ICT connectivity that enable digital transformation. <p></p> <p>In addition, there is a need to have a forward-looking planning for the next 50 years. For example, roads have to be designed keeping in mind the petrol-driven and future modes of transport such as electric vehicles. Similarly, adequate infrastructure must be provided for proper water drainage and water harvesting. A greenfield smart city should look to eliminate the woes of our current structure by providing world-class infrastructure that will improve the overall quality of life of its citizens.</p> <p>At GIFT City, the Master Plan has meticulously accounted for the needs of the city once it is fully developed with infrastructure that will support the future needs of the growing city. GIFT is focused on being green, sustainable, implementing technology-centric solutions requiring minimal human interference for day-to-day maintenance with maximum impact to improving the quality of life of citizens of the city.</p>What are the positive impacts of greenfield smart cities on GDP growth?<br /> Urban centres drive economic growth of a country through job creation, investment opportunities, and avenues for economic participation. Good quality services and infrastructure can be an enabler for the growth rate of the economy, and in bridging social and economic divides. Smart cities have been designed to maximise the socio-economic potential of the citizens with concepts such as work-life balance with walk-to-work and walk-to-school, etc. <p></p> <p>Greenfield smart cities increase efficiency and also propagate sustainability because they have the unique proposition of being built ground-up akin to a blank canvas, without the constraints of established cities. A greenfield smart city presents opportunities to all sectors to reinvent themselves with the aid of new technology and modern infrastructure that is functional, scalable and eco-friendly. This requires vision, meticulous planning and institutional commitment at various levels. Apart from being attractive to investors, smart cities, at their developing stage, are also job creators.</p>How greenfield smart cities will decongest existing cities? <br /> With a view to modernising India and enabling urbanisation, the government has launched two flagship schemes-the Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT (for urban renewal and retrofitting). The mission is to develop 100 cities across the country, making them citizen-friendly and sustainable with the use of latest technologies and techniques. The vision is to develop satellite towns of larger cities and modernise existing mid-sized cities, with the aim to provide world-class infrastructure and improving quality of life, manage the existing infrastructure with efficient use of available assets, support adequate economic activities, and boost investment and employment opportunities. <p></p>What are the broad parameters for the development of smart cities?<br /> Today, cities have to be more futuristic in their outlook and develop infrastructure that are world-class in the service delivery and operationally efficient. At GIFT City, we have implemented a ‘plug and play’ infrastructure such that a developer doesn’t have to worry about road access, power connection, waste disposal, cooling and so on. This model is not only cost effective but also leads to easy maintenance of infrastructure. <p></p> <p>GIFT City is a green-field project and India’s first operational smart city. Some of the infrastructure facilities implemented at GIFT are first-of-its-kind in India. The city has an integrated planning with ICT, which combines the best infrastructure with technology of global standards, and it also serves as a blueprint for future smart cities of India. Meticulous planning has gone into taking care of aspects such as less human intervention, optimisation of space and maintaining a clean environment. GIFT also works with new services and technology providers to try their solutions as proof-of-concepts in the city. </p> <p>The government is also supportive of developing smart cities across India by providing policy and implementation frameworks, and also providing funding options for development of the required infrastructure to achieve the vision of the 100 smart cities initiative. The greenfield development taking shape at GIFT City has been duly acknowledged in the Mission Statement & Guidelines’ for Smart Cities released by Union Ministry of Urban Development.</p>How can greenfield cities create world-class platforms for absorbing foreign investments and making India the base for global manufacturing? <br /> Foreign investors look for opportunities to differentiate, create value for a potential return on investment. Ease-of-doing business and enabling infrastructure provides an impetus to such investment intent. A smart city that provides a combination of world-class infrastructure, a business platform that is sustainable and environment friendly with the availability of talent and an improved quality of life presents the opportunity for foreign investors and domestic investors to participate in the development of the city. Through other features such as plug and play, dedicated economic zones and good connectivity, smart cities essentially serve as a desirable business destination for foreign and domestic businesses. Governance becomes a key factor; hence as provided under article 243Q of constitution of India, Government of Gujarat provided a separate notified committee for municipal functions in GIFT City. <p></p>Tell us about the recent developments in GIFT City and its current status.<br /> The GIFT City offers world-class infrastructure, a vibrant business platform with numerous taxation and operational benefits to domestic and SEZ businesses, abundance in talent and superb quality of life. The greenfield development taking shape at GIFT City has been duly acknowledged in section 5.1.3 of the ‘Mission Statement & Guidelines’ for smart cities released by Union Ministry of Urban Development in June 2015. GIFT City has been considered as a blueprint for other Smart Cities. Delegations from other states and corporate houses visit the city to study its model for possible implementation of similar infrastructure in their planned developments and many for establishing their presence at GIFT to suit their expansion plans. <p></p> <p>Currently, the fully-operational world-class infrastructure supports around 8,000 people employed from 165 operating businesses, and is well positioned to double its workforce every year. We encourage corporate and developers to visit GIFT so they can get the first-hand experience of the city and facilitate their decision to establish their presence in probably the fastest growing business destinations in India.</p>What strategies have been or are being applied to overcome the challenges in building a greenfield city?<br /> Like a blank canvas, establishing a new greenfield city has its own set of unique opportunities and challenges. Smart city implementation requires a vision, a set of objectives and some characteristics that will shape the city. Such reference points can then be given shape by experts from a variety of fields such as consultancy, development, operation, financing, and management, etc. Learning how other cities have developed and evolved will have input to the plan. Having developed the Master Plan of the city, then effective implementation and execution play a critical role for the successful development of the city. While there are many models, one model for implementation is PPP through which the government participates in the development of such projects. <p></p> <p>- RAHUL KAMAT</p>

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