Authorities in Vishakhapatnam had discussions with representatives from some of the leading organizations in the US regarding creating a road map that could help develop the city as a smart city. The US-India Business Council or USIBC had organized a roundtable meeting on smart cities and this discussion was a part of the talkas. In fact, during September 2014 both Obama and Modi had issued a combined statement where it had been stated that the coastal city will be developed as a smart city. This meeting could be regarded as a step in that direction.
The acting president of USIBC, Diane Farrell, helmed a group of 25 representatives from some of the top companies in the US. They engaged in discussions with senior officials who were representing the Andhra Pradesh Government and the Urban Development Ministry of India. Praveen Prakash, who is the Joint Secretary of the Union Urban Development Ministry, has expressed optimism at the way the meeting has shaped up. In fact, one of the main aims of the meeting is to develop Vizag as a model on which the 100 cities, which are to be chosen for the Smart City project, will be developed.
Vishakhapatnam, Allahabad and Ajmer
The USIBC had organized its first conclave on smart cities during November 2014. At that time M Venkaiah Naidu had sent an invitation to the said body asking them to come up with sub-committees that were going to make action plans for developing Vishakhapatnam, Allahabad and Ajmer as smart cities. The council, along with its members, is aiming to play an important role in helping the Government fulfil its commitment of constructing 100 smart cities. The aforementioned cities are going to receive special attention, though.
Farrell had stated that with the second bilateral meeting set to take place between Narendra Modi and Barack Obama in a few months there is a sense that both countries will try to come up with quantifiable results. This, according to Farrell, is the end aim of the entire project of smart cities.
Some of the companies that attended the meeting were:
- Applied Materials
- United Technologies Corporation
Andhra Pradesh signs agreement with US trade agency
The State Government of Andhra Pradesh has signed a pact with the US Trade Development Agency for developing smart cities in the region. Director Leocadia Zac representing USTDA and IYR Krishna Rao, who is the State Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, signed the agreement. Among the dignitaries who attended the event were Venkaiah Naidu and several officers from the Governments of both India and the US.
As per the agreement, the USTDA will provide the money needed for the following aspects related to smart cities:
- Feasibility studies
- Pilot projects
- Study tours
The agency is also supposed to help advisory bodies and consultancies so that Vishakhapatnam could be developed into a smart city. The US Exim Bank and Department of Commerce are also supposed to help both the entities in their endeavours.
As per a recent official release, the industry organization of the US has also expressed interest in helping the city develop. For this purpose it shall provide energy, aviation and other infrastructural benefits. N Chandrababu Naidu has said that the bilateral agreement is a sign of good things to come. It shows that the foundation for strong administrative procedures, which will enable higher levels of growth, has been laid. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh also feels that this MoU shall help in the improvement of relations between the State and the US.
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