India and Germany are making waves yet again! At the third Intergovernmental Consultations, held in New Delhi in October 2015, Prime Minister Modi and Chancellor Merkel agreed to steer the strategic partnership into a new and exciting phase. They identified sustainable urban development as a key area of cooperation and recognised the new opportunities the Indian government’s smart cities initiative presented. Germany has already committed up to ₹12,600 crore towards sustainable urban development so far.
Over the next years, in support of India’s “Smart Cities Mission”, Germany will assist projects in Kochi (Kerala), Bhubaneswar (Odisha) and Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu). Germany’s leading companies will share their expertise and technology in areas like urban mobility, water and wastewater management, renewable energies and energy efficiency. Prominent research institutes like the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC) and Deutsches Wissenschafts- und Innovationshaus (DWIH) New Delhi are also actively working on smart cities. Smart cities fast forward!
SMART CITIES INITIATIVE: ONGOING AND UPCOMING INDO-GERMAN PROJECTS
The expertise of the German rail operator, Deutsche Bahn International, is being utilised to handle the safety and monitor quality of the 26-kilometre elevated Kochi Metro. In addition, Kochi Metro Rail Ltd has a deal with the German Development Bank KfW to develop an integrated waterways project in the city. The project aims to provide better transportation facilities to people residing in nearby areas, develop rural roads and enable inclusive growth in the islands.
Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu)
The Tamil Nadu Urban Development Fund, a public-private partnership between the state government and three Indian commercial banks, aims to provide financing for environmentally relevant projects through loans and capital grants. Over the last seven years, on behalf of the German government, KfW has provided concessional loans amounting to ₹1,928 crore to TNUDF towards sustainable urban development projects, including in Coimbatore.
The German water treatment expert Harbauer and its Indian subsidiary have launched a mobile water testing lab in rural Bihar. This unique water testing laboratory on wheels is equipped with state-of-the-art technology which can conduct tests and analyse water on the spot. Quite sturdy in nature, it can even reach remote areas of the state for spot analysis of the water quality. A great smart city initiative!
The Odisha Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (OUIDF) is an ongoing bilateral success story. Launched by the state government in 2012, OUIDF is supported by the German government through KfW, which facilitates the financing of sustainable urban infrastructure projects in the region. It has extended a concessional loan amounting to ₹371 crore and another ₹18.5 crore towards technical assistance. Currently, OUIDF is implementing five projects in Bhubaneswar.
Electronics City (Karnataka)
Bengaluru is one of the hottest startup hubs in the world. The IT hub Electronics City currently houses around 102 companies and is growing exponentially. Electronic City Industrial Township Authority (Elcita)—which is responsible for managing the industrial township—has collaborated with Leibniz University of Hannover and the Germany-based waste treatment specialist, Wasteconsult International, on a ₹40-crore project. The plan of this smart city initiative is to build a 100 tonne-per-day solid waste management plant using German technology that can process both segregated and unsegregated waste. The university has come out with a unique design to produce output like compost, recyclables and fuel for cement industries.
The phrase smart cities has a myriad connotations. Commonly, it is used to convey a good quality of life for its citizens through various interconnected and easy-to-access measures. At Fraunhofer, a lot of research has gone into what makes the “Zukunftsstadt” or the “City of Tomorrow”. We have analysed more than six cities—including New York, Singapore, Berlin, Copenhagen, Freiburg—and have created sustainability profiles. Thereafter, in partnership with our extensive consortium of industry, government and research, we implemented as many as eight Smart City Labs—in Berlin, Eindhoven, Prague, Lisbon, Manchester, Stavanger, Chemnitz and Tiflis. The best practices learnt from these Smart City Labs are now available for India to take advantage of. It would be exciting to implement technologies from Europe for the unique requirements of growing Indian cities. Our focus would be multi-stakeholder dialogue and interdisciplinary cooperation among the various user agencies. Technology and innovation are important inputs to smart city initiatives, and Fraunhofer would be delighted to provide technology solutions for mobility, energy, ICT and security that suit the Indian context.
— Anandi Iyer, Head, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, India
Germany wants to support the ambitious smart cities programme. Here, the Federal Building Ministry also supports German companies that want to cooperate intensively with Indian partners in order to assist Indian cities in implementing their plan… But first we would like to enter into direct dialogue with the three cities Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Coimbatore to help them with the implementation of their smart city plans, among other things with feasibility studies.
— Gunther Adler, German State Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)