Singapore to help develop 2 townships in Rajasthan

The historic Chand Baori stepwell in Abhaneri village, Rajasthan, on Sept 24.
The historic Chand Baori stepwell in Abhaneri village, Rajasthan, on Sept 24. PHOTO: AFP

Republic will share urban planning expertise for project in Indian desert state: Shanmugam

Singapore is sharing its expertise in urban planning to help develop two new townships in the desert state of Rajasthan, said Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.

A memorandum of understanding for the fresh collaboration between Singapore and the Indian state was signed yesterday.

Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) and Rajasthan Housing Board agreed to jointly come up with a concept plan for two townships in Jodhpur and Udaipur. This includes housing solutions and masterplanning.

At the two-day Resurgent Rajasthan Partnership Summit, where Singapore is a partner country, Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, said: "On urban planning, we are happy to share our experience of better housing, which is one of the tangible and visible signs of progress. Housing is probably our signature success, with 90 per cent of (Singaporeans) owning homes."

SCE Asia-Pacific director Kevin Chong told The Straits Times that the focus of the project would be on building affordable housing and lots of green spaces.

Said Mr Chong: "We will look at township development, and also how township can serve the areas of affordable housing.

"We also want to see if we can introduce prefabrication technology that Singapore has been using for HDB."

In another new venture, budget carrier Scoot is looking to introduce flights between Jaipur and Singapore, Mr Shanmugam said.

Rajasthan, which has a population of around 73 million people, is one of India's top tourist destinations. Yet, as a desert state, it is often hit by drought and suffers from an acute shortage of water.

The state, which is governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party's Vasundhara Raje, makes up 10 per cent of India's land area and is its largest state, but has only 1.16 per cent of its water resources.

Rajasthan has been trying to woo investors and the partnership summit, the second by the state, has obtained commitments of US$65 billion (S$93 billion) in investments, according to the state government

Over the past year, Singapore has entered into a number of collaborations with Rajasthan, including in areas such as water management and conservation.

It has launched a programme to train 100 government officials in water management and is setting up a skills centre.

The ITE Education Services (Itees) is working with Rajasthan officials to develop the Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training in Udaipur, a tourist hub.

The latest collaboration in urban planning between Singapore and Rajasthan comes ahead of a two-day visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Singapore from next Monday.

"We look forward to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Singapore next week, which will be a significant milestone and step towards an even stronger partnership in the future," said Mr Shanmugam at the inaugural session of the two-day summit.

India has been looking to Singapore for its expertise in urban planning and is looking into upgrading and building 100 cities.

Singapore is already helping the southern state of Andhra Pradesh to build the new capital of Amaravati. Surbana Jurong is preparing the masterplan for the city, and other Singapore firms are likely to be involved in other projects.

Mr Modi's visit will include a strengthening of defence ties.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore to help develop 2 townships in Rajasthan'. Print Edition | Subscribe