Washington, Feb 20: India's ambitious plan to develop 100 smart cities can enhance quality of life for its citizens and help the country meet all environmental goals, a top US official has said.
US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews, who travelled to India last week leading a high-powered delegation of 18 American companies on a Smart Cities Infrastructure Business Development Mission, said the plan can also offer a unique and important opportunity for American businesses.
"Prime Minister Modi's leadership in revitalising India's economic development and his vision to develop 100 smart cities can enhance the quality of life for India's citizens and help India meet its environmental goals," Andrews said. The smart cities plan, which involves the overlaying of urban infrastructure with IT connectivity, can improve core infrastructure and enhance citizen services, he said.
During his visit, Andrews highlighted the need for India to address the fundamental 'ease of doing business' barriers that have traditionally hampered expanded trade and investment between the two countries. He also showcased the valuable contribution that the US industry can play in providing the products and services India's cities need to become global leaders in the deployment of "smart" technologies.
The week before the trade mission arrived in India, Prime Minister Modi's government named the first 20 cities that will be provided USD 15 million annually for the next five years as seed money to facilitate "smart cities" updates and improvements. The Center's investment will be matched by state governments and used to catalyse private-sector investment.
Visakhapatnam (Vizag), one of the three initial smart cities named as an official partner for the US, was included in the initial 20 cities that will receive the funding.
As part of the trade mission, US Trade and Development Agency Director Leocadia Zak concluded a grant agreement in presence of Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to continue US Trade and Development Agency's (USTDA) support of India's goal of developing smart cities across the country. The agreement will advance the City of Vizag's efforts to make it more efficient and sustainable through the development of interconnected infrastructure, communications and data systems, the Commerce Department said.