Many Indian cities comprising Delhi may be hopeful to be “smart” but that’s easier said than done. Singapore which is now working towards putting itself as the first “smart nation” has done it through scrupulous urban planning to use land, water and power most efficiently. Zulkifli, Its Zulkifli, minister in home and foreign affairs who met Indian journalists on Friday as part of media visit organized by Singapore International Foundation (SIF) said Indian cities first need rudimentary planning to make lives relaxed for people.

Zulkifli said Singapore government is open to developing Delhi as a smart city but it be contingent on the Indian government who they finally choose. “Singapore can help the new government led by PMNarendraModi short circuit the procedure of becoming smart. Discussions have started and we have some proposals on the table. They have to choose who they will work with. There are concerns with land attainments and a good legal apparatus needs to be put in place first. If you displace people, it may turn into a social problem. We are open to building Delhi. Zulfikli also elucidated that industries need to be clean, processes in place so they don’t pollute or such a project may fail or cause more distress to residents.

Some of the smart cities that Singapore has helped grow are Suzhou, Tianjin and Nanjing in China. At the core of Singapore’s urban planning is competence as the tiny island is just about 718 sqkms does not have land to make room for housing, transport, industry and open spaces. So, Singapore’s smart cities like Tampines, Zulkifli’s constituency have workplaces, shopping malls within walking distance. It has 11.3 km of cycling tracks connecting people to all amenities in the town that’s also professionally connected by Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) and bus. “We need to first understand what the city is about. Is it a professional city where most people go to work, what are its cultural nuances and then work towards making communities? Housing shouldn’t be just buildings but industrialized like community with well-organized transport like cycling. Planning for sewage in a way you don’t have to dig again and again.

In Singapore, most of the monitoring of efficacies is being done on sensors. According to the PUB, Singapore’s national water agency about 1000 sensors are presently monitoring for leaks, breakdowns, supply and Indian cities may have to adopt high end technology to be able to track such a network. All rainwater is appointed by the Singapore government through as layer of underground drains. Rainwater contributes to 25% of its total consumption, treated sewage water (25%), desalination (25%) and another 25% from Malaysia as part of bilateral contract that’s going to expire in 2061. Singapore’s smart city concept is high on sustainability with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) looking to build lifts on FOBs to make walking anoption for all age groups, even people with incapacities. It has now 100 km of cycling tracks and huge sheltered pedestrian walkways in various parts of Singapore.

Researchers at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at Singapore University of Technology and Design told TOI there are talks in the government about how Singapore can be developed like a “car-less” city in the future to address land shortage. Zulkifli however felt Delhi is improving. “When I visited 20 years ago I couldn’t even stand outside now I can even eat on Delhi’s roads. I think your preceding chief minister has done a good job.” Speaking about Singapore’s political relations, he said “We follow the rule of law here and we want countries to also follow that. That is why Singapore is one of the best arbitration centers. We want India to prosper and ensure China follows the rule of law. If India, China and US are robust there is better balance.

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