Emergence of smart cities presents new opportunities

By Hemant Sahai and Pranav Kumar Singh, HSA Advocates

The Indian government’s announcement of an ambitious programme for creation of over 100 brownfield and greenfield “smart cities” presents unprecedented investment opportunities. In the first of our regular columns on this emerging business opportunity, we headline some key developments as well as critical issues that will engage the technical, financial and legal brains as this sector gathers momentum.

Hemant Sahai
Hemant Sahai

Earlier this year, India and the US agreed to partner to develop three smart cities. Memorandums of understanding were signed by representatives of the US States Trade and Development Agency and the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh in the presence of India’s urban development minister, for developing smart cities in Allahabad, Ajmer, and Visakhapatnam. Japan, Singapore and other countries too have expressed interest in participating in the smart cities development programme.

What exactly is a smart city? While various definitions have been propounded, each stressing the significance of technology, the draft concept note issued by India’s Ministry of Urban Development recognizes four essential attributes of a smart city: (a) institutional infrastructure (including governance); (b) physical infrastructure (water and power supply, sanitation, waste management, transportation, affordable housing, connectivity, etc.); (c) economic infrastructure (to create economic growth and employment opportunities); and (d) social infrastructure (education, health, culture, entertainment).

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Hemant Sahai is the managing partner and Pranav Kumar Singh is a partner at the New Delhi office of HSA Advocates. HSA is a full-service firm with offices in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and with a correspondent relationship in Bangalore.

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