Narendra Modi’s Rs 78,000 cr hi-tech city GIFT to try new concepts; may shape future city technologies

These concepts may be widely used in smart cities of future as they are considered sustainable. District cooling, for example, can be used easily with renewable energy. Automated waste collection can be combined with biomass energy generation systems, so GIFT will burn waste to generate energy. Greenfield cities such as GIFT have an opportunity to test new technologies before they are adopted in existing Indian cities.

TOP-NOTCH GLOBAL FIN CENTRE

GIFT was conceived in 2007 and the idea was developed initially by a set of consultants such as McKinsey and urban development specialist Fairwood Consultants. It is being planned as a top-notch global financial centre to rival London, New York and Hong Kong.

On a more immediate time scale, it is being built to attract companies from Mumbai, Gurgaon and even Bangalore. After the initial flurry of announcements, the project entered a stage of lull due to the global economic meltdown in 2008. With the city being granted permission last November to operate as a multi-services SEZ, the Gujarat government is keen to take it forward quickly.

The stock exchanges of London, Tokyo and Singapore have evinced interest in setting up offices in GIFT, as have many Indian banks. Singapore Co-operation Enterprises, a government agency, has just signed an agreement with GIFT to develop a banking enclave.

“Liberty to transact in foreign currency at the IFSC in GIFT will significantly raise foreign firms’ investment and participation in India,” says SS Thakur, former chairman of HDFC and former controller of foreign exchange in the Reserve Bank of India. Similar financial centres in Hong Kong, Dubai, China, Malaysia, the UK (London) and the US (New York) contribute 5-60% of GDP of their respective countries. GIFT is expected to create 10 lakh jobs in 10 years.

Fairwood Consultants, which developed the first master plan, had envisaged a ‘next-class city’. It proposed 110 buildings with the tallest being 88 stories. “God does not give us land anymore,” says Vikas Chopra, senior vice-president of Fairwood, which is no longer associated with the project. Concentrating urban life into a small area was an eminently 21st Century concept as it made many services cost-effective and environment-friendly.

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