With the foreign ministers of France and Singapore in town, India on Tuesday sought their expertise in the development of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream project of 100 “smart cities”. As French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met Modi on Tuesday, the PM, while recalling that France had provided technical support for the Ahmedabad Heritage project, told him that India plans to build heritage cities and 100 new smart cities.
In this regard, he noted France’s expertise in the area, according to a statement from the PMO. Recalling the strategic and friendly ties between the two countries, Modi sought French cooperation in the field of urban planning and heritage conservation. Singapore Foreign Minister K Shanmugam, who met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday, also offered to help with Modi’s dream project of building 100 smart cities along the key infrastructure projects such as Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, entailing setting up of seven Greenfield Smart Cities between Delhi and Mumbai with three Smart Cities at Dholera, Shendra-Bidkin and Global City to be built by 2019.
Collaboration with Singapore for smart cities is aimed at improving IT in management of cities, use of new technology for sewerage treatment, including solid waste management, energy use of urban planning norms. Smart cities concept followed in Singapore include smart concept for generating energy savings up to 30 per cent and reducing carbon emissions and Smart Energy Grids for electricity demand and supply to interact intelligently. Smart cities are expected to improve economic efficiency, provide better quality of life and promote sustainable urban development.
Fabius, in his meeting with Modi, also extended President Francois Hollande’s invitation to visit France. Terming his meeting with Modi as “warm”, Fabius said he had “positive” talks with the PM on issues of urban planning, tourism and low-cost defence manufacturing.
Asked if he raised the multi-billion Rafale deal with Modi, he did not give a direct answer but said it was acknowledged that defence was a very important area of cooperation in the bilateral relationship. “The next step is for the French firm Dassault and for the Indian government to discuss the details which have not yet been discussed and hopefully reach a conclusion…. For us the early the better…,” he said.
Shanmugam, who is also Singapore’s Law Minister, clarified that the recent riots in that country were not a result of ethnic or migrant-related tension but were an aberration “fuelled by alcohol”. He also said, “Workers who come to Singapore make a free choice. They rank Singapore right at the top of the countries they could go to. They also have a choice of staying in India.”
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Shanmugam is set to meet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa during his visit but doesn’t expect the riots “to be made a political issue”. He stressed that “a survey shows 95 per cent of workers have no complaints” and that foreign workers commit fewer crimes than locals because they know they will be “identified, prosecuted and sent home” if they do.
Earlier in the day, Shanmugam met Swaraj to review the bilateral relationship. He highlighted private sector-led collaboration on urban planning and management. Shanmugam also mentioned skill development and tourism as other prospective areas for collaboration “within the framework of a strategic partnership”. Shanmugam is slated to meet the PM, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday.