India and the US on Tuesday decided to set up three task forces to jointly develop Visakhapatnam, Ajmer and Allahabad as smart cities.
While Ajmer was chosen for its large Muslim population, Allahabad was picked for being a Hindu pilgrimage centre. Visakhapatnam was chosen as the state government was unable to reconstruct it after last year’s Hud Hud cyclone, said officials.
After MoUs were signed between the US and the governments of Rajasthan, UP and Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, the two countries on Tuesday set up task forces for each city. They will submit reports in three months. Officials said the initiative was fast-tracked although the Centre’s plan to develop 100 smart cities is yet to be finalised.
On Tuesday, issues relating to development of these cities were discussed at a 45-minute meeting between Naidu and visiting US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. Each task force team will consist of three representatives each from central and state governments and the US Trade and Development Agency. Each task force will discuss city-specific features, project requirements and appropriate revenue models for enabling flow of investments before suggesting action plan to develop them as smart cities.
Referring to her meetings with Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu and Rajasthan’s Vasundhara Raje, Pritzker said she found them to be “go-getters” and was confident of making a success of the smart city plan.
Meanwhile, the two countries signed a Joint Declaration of Intent for collaborating in providing support to the Indian Institutes of Technology on Friday, furthering bilateral ties in higher education.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will support “at least one IIT in India with the broad aim of intensifying collaborations in Research and Development and entrepreneurship”. The first IIT likely to be picked the collaboration is the relatively new IIT-Gandhinagar.