The Indian government has to fix bottlenecks in land acquisition if it wants the US to open its purses for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project of developing 100 smart cities in the country.
“Right now we are still in the nascent stage of finding ways forward with India on smart cities. We do not have clarity on financing for the many projects that need to be done,” said Richard Verma, US ambassador to India.
He pointed out that hurdles in acquiring land and investing in the country, for both domestic and foreign investors, would render many projects unviable even at the outset.
Verma and secretary of department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) Amitabh Kant spoke at the annual general meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham).
The US is ready to work with India to increase the bilateral trade to $500 billion (Rs 30,00,000 crore), which currently stands at $100 billion, said the ambassador.
However, he highlighted, it would be a challenge to work with Indian partners to develop appropriate, long-term financing to help realise the ambitious plans.
“If we achieve this goal sometime in the next several years, our economic relationship will be 25 times larger than what it was just 15 years ago.”
US-India joint ventures create over a million jobs in India and tens of thousands in the US, he said.
Amitabh Kant said the Indian government is committed to creating a predictable, transparent and enabling policy regime to ensure ease of doing business in the country.
The Smart Cities project proposes to modernise existing mid-sized cities to develop them into satellite towns of larger cities.