Almost two years ago, the Narendra Modi government announced the 100 Smart Cities Mission to transform urban India. But, till date, not a single dollar has come in as foreign investment for the mission.
On an RTI query filed by BusinessLine on how much foreign funding Indian cities identified under this mission have garnered, the Ministry of Urban Development said that “no investment has been received”.
This is despite Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s visits abroad to attract investments, apart from talks with visiting foreign delegations here.
Moreover, on the size of foreign investment, which the government expects to receive under this mission, the RTI reply stated, “No study has been done by the Ministry of Urban Development in this regard.”
The Cabinet has approved ₹48,000 crore, that is ₹100 crore per city per year for five years for the mission. States have to match this amount and gather funds via public-private-partnership and convergence from other schemes.
“Foreign investment can’t flow just like that. It will come in the form of technology which is a difficult task. Municipalities and city leaders will need to come up with PPP projects where investors can come in after all approvals are in place. There is a deficit of such projects at the moment,” said Pratap Padode, Founder, Smart Cities Council India. The Council is a consortium of smart city practitioners and experts.
Naidu had visited the US in July and Berlin in May to attract investments for smart cities and other urban missions. Germany had earlier agreed to associate with Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Coimbatore through technical and financial assistance, a statement had said. In November 2014, a 35-member delegation went to the Smart City Congress in Barcelona, apart from Naidu visiting Singapore to pitch for investments.
Only two MoUs signed
While several countries have expressed keenness in the mission, only two MoUs have been signed till date. The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) inked an MoU for Vishakhapatnam, Allahabad and Ajmer, and the French Agency for Development signed a pact to assist Nagpur, Chandigarh and Oulgaret.
The USTDA on Thursday said few US firms and State government have begun to identify the planning and investments required to grow and modernise Visakhapatnam.