Skip to main content

Modi's ambitious GIFT project take off slow, complains top US business daily, revealing "undisclosed" details

Counterview Desk
While the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), the ambitious state-driven “smart” city project envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi about seven eight ago, has refused a right to information (RTI) applicant, Roshan Shah, any details regarding details of the progress made in the project, an influential international business daily has created flutter by revealing facts on slow progress in the ‘smart’ city project.
The daily added, the slowness would tell adversely on Modi’s 100 smart city projects, too.
The RTI applicant had wished to know the number of towers proposed in initial launch plan and number of storeys in each and date of initial plan in the GIFT city project, target date to get all towers operational in initial plan, initial estimated budget to build this city as per initial plan, number of towers and number of storyes in each that are now planned in the plan that Government of India (GoI) would have in 2015, the new target date to get all towers operational as per this plan with GoI, and the current estimated budget to build this city as per this plan.
While Shah was refused details saying that GIFT is “not a public authority”, US’ business daily “Wall Street Journal” (WSJ) in its article titled “In India, a GIFT waiting to be opened”, declared, the future smart city had so far been “slow”. “Only two 29-story steel-and-glass office buildings rise above a dusty wasteland in the Indian state of Gujarat… Construction work has moved slowly and few private enterprises have signed up. Of the two office towers, the first is about 50% occupied and the second one is empty”, it said.
Further pointing to the “slowness”, the daily said, “Goal posts for the city’s development have changed over the years. Its creation was announced when India was booming back in 2007, and the first phase—covering around 25 million square feet—was supposed to have been completed by 2010.”
“On a recent visit, two buildings with 1.6-million-square feet of office space had been completed. Part of one building was occupied. A data center for telecommunications was also ready, as was a fire station and a school. The rest of the area was mainly empty. Construction was under way for a hospital and other facilities”, it said.
All slowness has happened amidst the approach adopted by the Gujarat government for it – “the if-you-build-it-they-will-come idea” to create “a magnet for banks, securities firms and information-technology companies akin to Canary Wharf in London or La Defense outside Paris”, the daily pointed out.
The daily quoted GIFT’s critics approvingly to say that GIFT’s halting progress is a cautionary tale as Modi’s federal administration moves ahead with plans for 100 smart cities, “which, among other things, would use technology to improve public services such as waste disposal and save energy.”
It added, “The government should focus more on delivering basics—like 24-hour electricity and water—to India’s rapidly growing and often poorly run existing cities. About 340 million people lived in Indian cities in 2008, a number expected to rise to 590 million by 2030, according to a study by McKinsey & Co.”
The daily cited Greg Clark, an urban-policy expert and chairman of Business of Cities Ltd., a London-based consulting company, to say that “developments like GIFT are ‘not really serving the benefit of Indian citizens that need better cities’.”
Suggesting the type of city GIFT would be, the daily said, it would have “central air-conditioning in all buildings, filtered tap water and municipal waste collection (a rarity in urban India).” Thus, it adds, “GIFT, as planners envision it, would be far more advanced than existing Indian cities.”
But here finances are an important hurdle, WSJ suggested. “All this comes at a cost. If 100,000 people live in a city, the cost of building the city’s infrastructure comes to around $23,500 per person. In comparison, India’s gross national income per capita is around $1,600, according to the World Bank.”
Even other smart city projects would face the same hurdle of finance, the daily said. Quoting Jaijit Bhattacharya, a partner at well-known consulting firm KPMG India’s infrastructure division, WSJ says, it will cost “$20 billion to create a smart city, so 100 cities would cost around $2 trillion—about the size of the Indian economy. India has so far budgeted $7.5 billion.” It adds, “If by some magic you get that money, India still doesn’t have the capacity to execute this plan”.

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

'Allow critical thinking': SAARC-sponsored varsity teachers support protesting students

By Our Representative
Teachers of the high-profile South Asian University (SAU), a New Delhi-based international institute sponsored by eight member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – have supported “peacefully protesting students and other citizens” against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.