A SINGAPORE consortium was given the master development rights to build the new capital city of Amaravati for the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
The group, comprising Ascendas-Singbridge and Sembcorp Development, received the letter of award on Monday to develop the commercial core of Amaravati.
The ceremony, held at the Taj Gateway Hotel in Vijayawada, was witnessed by Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.
With the rights, the consortium and the Amaravati Development Corporation will form a joint venture called Amaravati Development Partners to develop the area, which is located along the southern bank of Krishna River, said a press statement from Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry.
This financial district, an area of 6.84 sq km, will be next to the government core, which will house the state secretariat, legislative and judiciary buildings, and the governor's office.
Mr Iswaran also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Mr Naidu on Monday for greater collaboration between Singapore and Andhra Pradesh in two key areas: economic development through the identification of commercial opportunities for Singapore companies in Amaravati and Andhra Pradesh; and sharing institutional expertise in areas such as urban governance, security and education. The two ministers will co-chair a Joint Implementation Steering Committee.
Mr Iswaran said he "is pleased that Singapore and its companies can make a meaningful contribution to realising the vision of the government and people of Andhra Pradesh, of Amaravati as the People's Capital".
"This development will offer growth opportunities for Singapore companies not only in Amaravati City, but also in the state of Andhra Pradesh and the wider Indian market. I encourage Singapore companies to study and seize these opportunities as part of their internationalisation strategy," he said.
This is the latest milestone of India-Singapore partnership. Singapore has been involved in building Amaravati from the start. The capital city had to be created from scratch after Andhra Pradesh lost its former capital Hyderabad to the newly formed state of Telangana.
In December 2014, International Enterprise Singapore signed an MOU with the Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra Pradesh to jointly work on the master plan for the city, and Surbana Jurong, which was appointed as the master planners, created the plan in three phases in 2015, the last of which was handed over in July 2015.
During a pre-trip press conference on Friday, Mr Iswaran told reporters that the project to develop the commercial core of Amaravati, coupled with India's own initiative of 100 smart cities, "offers us the opportunities for Singapore companies, riding on our capabilities and contributing to India's specific needs; and in the process, participating in the urban solutions and general infrastructure needs".
Mr Iswaran also said this project has other important dimensions.
"From the bilateral perspective between India and Singapore, we have elevated the relationship in recent years to a strategic partnership involving several dimensions and one of those is in terms of contributions in urban solutions and capacity building so this project would be one of the most significant by far, both in terms of scale and potential for greater mutual partnership and contributions by Singapore towards India's broader development objectives," he added.
Amaravati's development is expected to spur economic growth across an 8,000-sq-km region and the plan is for the city to be home to more than 10 million people working in a diversified economy comprising the government, education and agriculture sectors by 2050.
In a joint statement, Ascendas-Singbridge and Sembcorp said the startup area will be developed in phases over 15 to 20 years and the Andhra Pradesh government will work with the master developers on "industry positioning and investment promotion to bring economic activity to the city".
Group chief executive officer of Ascendas-Singbridge Miguel Ko said the project will mark a new frontier in its ventures in India.
"We have been in India for over 20 years, with eight IT Parks across five cities. Today, we are happy to be presented the opportunity to work with like-minded partners on the development of Amaravati into a future-ready smart and modern city," he said.
Group president and chief executive officer of Sembcorp Industries Neil McGregor added that having been "a friend of India for some time, supporting growth through investments in conventional and renewable energy throughout India, . . . the project will allow us to bring our proven international track record in world-class integrated urban developments to create a vibrant city of the future in Amaravati".
Sembcorp currently has thermal power in Andhra Pradesh.