Singapore and Andhra Pradesh discuss progress on new capital city Amaravati

Farmers from Andhra Pradesh visiting the Singapore City Gallery at The URA Centre (URA) to learn more about Singapore's urban development history earlier this month. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY

NEW DELHI - Singapore and Andhra Pradesh explored projects promoting economic development in the Indian state's upcoming capital city of Amaravati during a two-day visit by Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran.

Amaravati, 10 times the size of Singapore, is coming up across large swatches of agriculture land in the Guntur Vijayawada region.

Singapore has been involved in the project since 2014 with infrastructure consulting firm Surbana Jurong submitting the city's masterplan in 2015.

In May this year, a consortium of Ascendas-Singbridge and Sembcorp Development was announced as the master developers for a 6.84 sq km start-up area.

Over the last six months, the Singapore consortium and the Andhra Pradesh government formalised their agreement on its development and on Friday (Nov 17), Mr Iswaran and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu hailed the "very good progress" made.

Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement the design of the buildings in this commercial core had started and that the two sides also discussed possible collaborations in the rest of Andhra Pradesh.

"These included smart cities solutions for Amaravati and logistics and connectivity in the Andhra Pradesh state," said MTI.

"Institutional collaborations such as building the skills and capabilities of the people of Andhra Pradesh to prepare them for work opportunities in the capital city, and enhancing public libraries across Andhra Pradesh were reviewed."

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister also took Mr Iswaran on a tour of the locations where the first buildings will be constructed in the area being developed by the Singapore consortium.

Mr Naidu, who is driving the capital city project and has been keen on the collaboration with Singapore, also expressed satisfaction with the meeting of the steering committee.

"With a thrust to lay foundations for development projects in Amaravati, we discussed the need for a futuristic and innovative approach," he said in a tweet.

A new capital city has to be built from scratch because Andhra Pradesh lost its existing capital of Hyderabad to Telangana, a state carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. It was decided at the time that Hyderabad would be shared between the two states for 10 years and then go to Telangana, as it falls within its state boundary.

While Mr Naidu faces challenges in building the capital city, including raising finances, Amaravati cleared a major legal hurdle yesterday.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), which over the last two years had looked into whether the new capital could impact the ecology of the area, yesterday ruled that its construction could go on. The NGT order, seen as a major relief for Mr Naidu, has set up two committees to monitor the work at Amaravati.

Mr Iswaran also called on Indian Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday.

In addition, he met ministers who have been allocated new portfolios since September's Cabinet reshuffle.

MTI said the meetings were to "build on bilateral relations and cooperation".

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