New Delhi: India and the United States of America today agreed on taking quick measures for development of Visakhapatnam, Allahabad and Ajmer as smart cities. Issues relating to development of these cities as smart cities were discussed in detail at a meeting between the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu and the visiting US Secretary of Commerce Ms.Penny Pritzker. The discussions lasted about 45 minutes.
The US delegation agreed to the suggestion of Shri Venkaiah Naidu for setting up Task Force for each of the three cities for formulating concrete action plans in the next three months. Each Team will consist of three representatives each from central and respective state governments and the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). Each city Task Force will discuss city specific features, project requirements and appropriate revenue models for enabling flow of investments etc., before suggesting action plans for developing them as smart cities.
Ms.Penny Pritzker said ‘this meeting was in pursuance of the directive of President Barack Obama to work on the economic dimension of strategic and commercial dialogue between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama and the decisions taken’. USTDA and the respective three state governments signed Memoranda of Understanding on January 25, for developing Visakhapatnam, Allahabad and Ajmer as smart cities.
Referring to the Modi-Obama Joint Statement of September last year and signing of MoUs on smart city cooperation, Shri Naidu said ‘it is now time for both the sides to walk the talk by acting quick and concretising the agreements reached. The Joint Statement and the MoUs have raised high hopes about smart cities becoming a reality. President Obama’s current visit to India has even furthered these expectations and action is the need of the hour’.
In her response, Ms.Penny Pritzker said she was in agreement with Shri Naidu’s views and needful would be done. Referring to her meetings with Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Shri N.Chandrababu Naidu and of Rajasthan Smt.Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Ms.Pritzker noted that she found them to be ‘go getters’ and was confident of making a success of smart city cooperation between the US and India. She also said that US companies would be told that ‘what is being talked about India is real and they should seize the opportunities’.
Shri Venkaiah Naidu assured the US delegation that he would personally ensure that things move fast with regard to development of smart cities.
Shri Naidu informed the US delegation that the Ministry of Urban Development will be represented by Shri Durga Shankar Mishra, Additional Secretary and Dr.Sameer Sharma and Shri Praveen Prakash, both Joint Secretaries on the Task Force for each of the three cities. Soon after the meeting, Shri Naidu spoke to Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan and will soon appraise Chief Minister of UP about the decisions taken. Chief Minister of AP informed that his government will be represented by the state’s Urban Development Minister Dr.P.Narayana besides Secretary(UD) and Municipal Commissioner of Visakhapatnam.
Ms.Penny Pritzker informed Shri Naidu that Shri Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary of State will coordinate and will give the names of their nominees.
The six member US delegation included Shri James Mathew Hock, Chief of Staff, Shri Thomas Wyler, Senior Advisor on Policy, Shri Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary of State and Ms.Holly Vineyard, Deputy Assistant Secretary.
Minister of State for Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri Babul Supriyo, Secretary(UD) Shri Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary(HUPA) Smt.Anita Agnihotri and other senior officials of both the ministries also participated in the discussions.