Singapore building smart city in India 10 times bigger than itself

8 Jan 2015

The state of Andhra Pradesh in India is set to smarten up, with Singapore enlisted to help create its new IT-focused capital city.

Having split in two recently, Andhra Predesh lost its capital to the newly established Telangana.

Under the agreement, Andhra Predesh was given a decade, and €13.5bn, to build a new one.

But no fear, Singapore – a state renowned for its progressive stance on technology – reached an agreement in December with the Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra Pradesh, to develop the new capital, creating a masterplan to do so.

The city, at 7,235 square kilometres, comes in at over ten times the size of Singapore, which is mindblowing.

The masterplan, which started upon the reached agreement last month, will take six months, with the first phase of construction completed before the end of the decade.

Plenty to be done

The plans include the construction of ports, airports and utilities such as power, water, and sanitation. The Singapore-based and government-funded Centre for Liveable Cities will even take up the training of officials of the state government.

At the time of the agreement, Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, said: “The Singapore Government is developing the masterplan and everything else. Also, Singapore companies will come.

“Then we will start construction, development and then we will work out the details. Different models will be used in different times.”

Such a mammoth task will not be without its obstacles, one of which is as petty as it is predictable in a country not known for its efficiency and progressive planning.

Bizarre obstacle

It seems that Singaporean architects are not allowed to work on Indian soil. The Indian Architects Association claims that foreign architects can get work permits to do projects in India only if the two states have a mutual agreement.

Since Singapore has no such understanding with India, the Singaporean architects are hamstrung, it seems – although given the scale of the project, the importance of the agreement and the finance behind such, presumably this problem will be amended with little fuss.

However the Guardian’s look at this ground-breaking agreement suggests that corruption may prove the death knell to both this capital city, and Singapore’s pioneering reputation around the world.

Corrupt tendering processes can lead to unequipped companies gaining contracts to the construction of critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, harbours etc. Sub standard production of these key networks, if it came to pass, “would not only be an enormous setback to construction plans, but would do collateral damage to Singapore’s reputation.”

However we’re a more optimistic bunch at Silicon Republic. An IT-led super city can have no better backer than Singapore, which has – without any natural resources – positioned itself as a world leader in technology.

We’ll have to wait and see what’s to come…

Smart city graphic via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic