India, Austria tie up to develop ‘smart cities’

Forging new ties:Union Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath with Austrian Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation & Technology Doris Bures during a Press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.- Photo: Shanker Chakravarty  

India will draw on the Austrian experience to develop “smart cities” with an overhauled gamut of service from city planning to urban transport and even Internet services. On Tuesday, Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath announced the India-Austria collaboration to build a model smart city, which will serve as a template for replication.

Mr. Nath said under the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the Centre will push for two smart cities in all States. Initially, mid-sized cities with a population of between half a million to a million will be selected for the transformation.

Two cities in each State

“Under the JNNURM II the Central Government proposes to have two smart cities in each State. We want to seek assistance from the Austrian Institute of Technology on what is a model smart city, what defines it, what will it cover, from broadband, [being] carbon neutral, [to having] intelligent transport…”Mr. Nath said.

70 million plus cities

Citing examples of the cities that can be developed as smart cities, Mr. Nath said places like Ujjain and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, with their areas and population can meet the requirements for the project. “In the next decade, India will have over 70 cities with a million plus population. Austria has already been engaged with India for a long time and we are keen to increase that engagement to economic and technological sides. We want to create a whole basket of engagements not restricted to trade but including technology and best practices,” he said.

The Minister said his Ministry has had discussions with a visiting delegation from Austria that includes Doris Bures, Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology, Government of Austria, to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology.

Partner organisations

The National Institute of Urban Affairs, a research, training and information dissemination wing under the Urban Development Ministry and the Austrian Institute of Technology will be the partner organisations to carry out the work, Mr. Nath said.

Urbanisation a challenge

For her part, the Austrian Minister Doris Bures said Austria and India can increase collaboration on several fronts including mobility. “More and more people now want to move to cities, this poses a challenge. And the answer to the challenge is new technology and close cooperation. The question of mobility in the city is also a major issue,” she said.

Ms. Bures said the Austria is keen to increase its engagement with India and smart cities where energy efficiency, generation and mobility play a role is one such area.