November 22, 2014 6:37 pm JST
India urban development

Delhi Metro and Gujarat smart city ranked as world-class projects

KIRAN SHARMA, Nikkei staff writer

Delhi Metro, a lifeline for commuters in India's capital

NEW DELHI -- Delhi Metro, the capital's public transport lifeline, and Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), the first smart city in the world's second most populous country, have been included among six major development schemes in India on a list of the world's 100 most inspirational and innovative infrastructure projects.

     The other Indian projects that made it on to the Infrastructure 100: World Markets Report compiled by international accounting firm KPMG are:

  • Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project -- Tata Power's $4.4 billion coal-fired thermal power plant serving the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab.
  • Yamuna Expressway -- the $1.9 billion motorway connecting New Delhi with Agra, home of the majestic Taj Mahal.
  • Interceptor Sewage System -- a $323 million water diversion system for New Delhi.
  • Narmada Canal Solar -- a $17.9 million water conservation and power generation project for Gujarat.

     Assessing the Gujarat smart city project, KPMG said traditional finance and IT hubs may soon be looking to the $20 billion GIFT city for ideas. The mega project combines state-of-the-art connectivity, infrastructure and transportation with sustainable and environmentally sensitive growth. The project is backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and intended to change the way Indians view urban planning.

     R. K. Jha, GIFT's managing director and group chief executive officer, said the recognition is well deserved. "A lot of innovation has been done in planning and development of this city," he told the Nikkei Asian Review, adding that the pace of construction has recently picked up.

     The $2.3 billion Delhi Metro benefited from a substantial loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). According to KPMG, Delhi's business and leisure travelers enjoy a clean, well-run metro that is also profitable thanks in part to government-subsidized power. The report said that ten years after it first opened, the Delhi Metro "continues to expand, setting a shining example of how to carry out an effective public works program."

     Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's Managing Director Mangu Singh welcomed his project's inclusion on the "prestigious list" and recognition of his company's sustained efforts to create world-class mass transportation infrastructure in the national capital region. "We shall continue with our efforts to provide comfortable, reliable, affordable and eco-friendly services to the people," he said in a statement.

     Najeeb Jung, Lt. Governor of Delhi, commended the initiatives taken by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), the city's water board, to improve water and waste water infrastructure which led to the Interceptor Sewage System. "Recognition of the DJB's project on [a] global platform is a matter of pride for us," he said in a statement.

     The DJB project has been designed to improve the quality of water flowing into the Yamuna river through installation of waste water intercepting sewers in a 59km area along three major drainage channels in the capital.

     According to Arvind Mahajan, who leads the team observing government and infrastructure for KPMG in India, the sector has been a roller coaster. "While the past few years have seen a decline in interest around the infrastructure sector, the new government is taking a number of measures to revive investment. We believe this could lead to a re-rating of Indian infrastructure," he said.

     KPMG, which has been operating in India since 1993, enlisted a global panel of independent industry experts for the report to evaluate over 400 "diverse and compelling" projects around the world before selecting 100 with a total estimated value of over $1.73 trillion.  In different ways, these are all expected to transform the way the world's populations interact with their cities, governments and environment.

     The report divided the world into four parts: mature international markets like Canada, Australia and the U.K.; economic powerhouses including the U.S., Brazil, Russia, India and China; smaller established markets like Chile, Sweden, New Zealand and South Korea; and emerging markets like Argentina, Myanmar and Uganda.

     Seven projects in China also made the top 100, including Beijing International Mega-Airport, the South-to-North Water Transfer Project and Sky City in Changsha, Hunan province.

     KPMG said the 100 projects "embody the spirit of infrastructure, development and private finance," and illustrated the broad range of infrastructure investments and their potential to transform countries and lives.

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