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The government’s Smart Cities mission is keeping companies busy

February 2019
India is going smart in a hurry, thus keeping companies busy!

Major projects involving civil infrastructure in the cities where Grant Thornton India is engaged, include a road project under tendering covering 52 km in the ABD area with Rs 6.50 billion; integrated bus terminal worth over Rs 500 million; an affordable housing project worth over Rs 2 billion; water supply distribution project on a pan-city basis worth over Rs 2 billion; four multilevel cark park projects in different cities, each costing about Rs 200 million; landscaping and beautification of parks; and e-libraries with integrated facilities, including lounges and kiosks.

Tata Projects is involved in the execution of PPP Pune Street lighting projects pan India (Ludhiana, Noida and Pune); emergency response and OFC projects in Chhattisgarh; and now the ICCC project for Patna Smart City.  

L&T Smart World and Communication derives its project execution capabilities from L&T Construction combined with its technological expertise in the smart domain. “It’s a combination that helps us design customised city-specific solutions and deliver projects within stringent timelines,” says R Srinivasan, Executive Vice-President & Head, L&T Smart World and Communication. As a master systems integrator, the Smart World Communications business has already carried out and is currently executing projects in 11 Indian smart cities, developing and installing a range of smart solutions aimed to improve the lives of citizens and make their cities safer and smarter. “We have put up India’s largest surveillance projects for Mumbai and Hyderabad, developed the country’s first smart city, Jaipur, and made several other cities smart, including Gandhinagar, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Raipur and Prayagraj, to name a few.”

Works in progress 

Cities benefit from the creation of new infrastructure or retrofitting existing infrastructure. Through the smart city projects, cities are able to provide their citizens upgraded or new infrastructure to meet the growing population and cater to growing urban areas. 

Commenting on projects being currently executed by Tata Projects, Gautam Balakrishnan, Vice President-Smart Cities Business, Smart Cities, Tata Projects, says, “All projects are on schedule. There are execution challenges such as resource availability, clearances and gap in the information. However, we understand and expect these challenges as these are brownfield projects and we are prepared to handle them.”

Dineshchandra R Agrawal Infracon’s flagship project is Jaipur smart city, and the company is involved in Udaipur as well. “In Jaipur, we are developing smart roads for the city’s old bazaars,” says Hardik Agrawal, Director, Dineshchandra R Agrawal Infracon. “We are integrating it with modern facilities such as smart lighting and are redeveloping some old areas that were damaged.” As for challenges, he says the most important aspect is citizen safety. “This is the challenge faced in any urban area but contractors have learnt to live with this in the sense that we know how to work around it.” With a reach in over 20 states, he adds that the company is eyeing all 100 smart cities. “We are looking at what the project entails, what would be a good bid.”

Two significant mandates won recently are on fast-track implementation. One involves the creation of a city network backbone in Pimpri-Chinchwad and implementation of smart elements such as Wi-Fi, smart kiosks and variable message displays across the city. The other is from the Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet (APSFL) for Bharatnet Phase 2 works to establish an IPMPLS infrastructure to cover 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh to interconnect citizens, government, business and communities and serve as the backbone for all connectivity requirements and ICT-led projects in the state. “As in any infrastructure project, right-of-way (RoW) issues do prevail; however, the smart city SPV commissioner is empowered to bring everyone under one umbrella for quicker approvals,” says Srinivasan. “During the initial stages of smart projects, we have faced issues in the definition of project outcomes but, with time, we have seen clarity emerging in terms of the expectations of the city for the solutions at the design stage itself.”