NEW DELHI - Singapore and the southern state of Andhra Pradesh have taken the first steps towards developing the commercial core of the upcoming capital city of Amaravati.
The ignition switch was flicked on Thursday (Jan 10) when Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu unveiled a commemorative plaque as part of the ground-breaking ceremony for the setting up of the Welcome Gallery.
Singaporean firms Ascendas-Singbridge and Sembcorp Development are the master developers for the 6.84 sq km stretch of the planned city. The firms are working with the Amaravati Development Corporation, an Andhra Pradesh government agency.
The gallery will be the first structure to be built in this central zone, which is also known as the start-up area.
It will be erected across 2.6ha and will be able to accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 visitors a day with features such as a city gallery, exhibition and community zones and co-working spaces for start-ups, said Amaravati Development Partners, an Indian company formed by the Singaporean firms and ADC.
The progress on Amaravati was part of discussions during the 4th Joint Implementation Steering Committee Meeting chaired by Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister for Communications and Information, and Mr Naidu on Thursday.
Links between Singapore and Andhra Pradesh have been deepening over the collaboration to develop the new capital city.
Andhra Pradesh is building the city from scratch across agriculture land in the Guntur Vijayawada region because it lost its capital city Hyderabad to the new state of Telangana.
Singapore has been involved in the project since 2014 with Surbana Jurong submitting the city's masterplan in 2015. In 2017, a consortium of Ascendas-Singbridge and Sembcorp Development was announced as the master developers.
Apart from Amaravati, efforts are also underway to deepen economic links.
Mr Iswaran and Mr Naidu noted plans by the AP-Singapore Business Council, anchored by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), to facilitate more partnerships in Andhra Pradesh between Indian and Singapore companies, said a Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) statement.
It added that the "SBF has launched 'The Sunrise Programme', a dedicated platform for Singapore companies to secure projects within Andhra Pradesh".
The three-year programme, which aims to reach out to 1,200 companies, is supported by Enterprise Singapore through its Local Enterprise and Association Development Programme, said the MTI.
The SBF said it plans to organise both outbound and inbound missions so companies from both sides can get insights into their destination markets.
It noted that the Sunrise Programme "sets in motion bilateral trade activities and establishes institutions of commerce between Singapore and the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh".
Seven Singaporean firms exchanged Memoranda of Understanding and Letters of Intent with Amaravati Development Partners to incorporate their technologies into the Welcome Gallery.
Separately three MOUs were signed between three Singaporean firms - Erect Group, CKR Group of Companies, and ByBiTech - and the Andhra Pradesh Real Estate Regulatory Authority (APRERA) and the AP Economic Cities Promotion and Development Corporation (APEDCO) to bring Singapore technologies and solutions to "Amaravati Construction City", MTI said.
They are investing in the Amaravati Construction City, a one-stop location providing construction technologies, building materials and leasing of construction equipment, said the MTI.
"Amaravati fits right for us... we are pleased to join hands with the AP (Andhra Pradesh) government," said Mr Karthik V, operations director at ByBiTech, a professional building information modeling solutions company.
The two ministers "also commended the progress in skills development, such as the establishment of Singapore SynchroSkills, a joint venture between two Singapore and Indian companies". This has trained 300 students in bridal fashion and apparel, among other skills.
Mr Iswaran also visited the inaugural "We Draw Amaravati Together" exhibition by Urban Sketchers Singapore in India.
The exhibition, organised by Urban Sketchers Singapore, features more than 90 artworks capturing the heritage and culture of 29 villages in Amaravati, said the MTI.