In a historic move, Chandigarh administration, Puducherry and Maharashtra governments signed MoUs with French government entity, Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) to develop Chandigarh, Puducherry and Nagpur as Smart Cities.
In the initial stage, the French agency will provide technical assistance to the three cities and financial assistance may be considered at a later stage.
Adviser to Chandigarh administrator Vijay Dev signed the documents on behalf of Chandigarh. Chief Secretary Manoj Parida signed the papers on behalf of the Puducherry government, while Dayanand, a Deputy Director rank officer represented the Maharashtra government.
These were formalised in the presence of visiting French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chandigarh.
The deal is an offshoot of the Indo-French bilateral cooperation agreement on sustainable urban development firmed up on Oct 5, 2012 and also the understanding reached during Modi’s visit to France in April, 2015 that French authorities would concentrate on Puducherry, Nagpur and Chandigarh.
AFD will provide Puducherry a fall back cushion to realise its Smart City aspirations even should its Oulgaret Municipality which is currently competing among other shortlisted cities for inclusion in the Smart City Mission miss the bus.
Under the MoU for a period of three years, the technical cooperation programme will make available to the Puducherry a pool of French experts from the public sector (French municipalities, local public companies, agencies for urban planning), complemented by experts from private sector.
“In a larger context, the pool of experts could rotate like a roster among the three Indian cities to which French technical assistance will be provided,” the agreement states.
The technical support by AFD would essentially focus on areas such as strengthening the strategy and management of urban services, covering integrated development and urban planning, urban transport, water supply, sanitation, waste management, architecture and heritage, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
AFD will help project management to oversee the detailed project reports and feasibility studies, assist in creation and structuring of the Special Purpose Vehicles to build strategic management and capacity building for financial management.
AFD has committed to provide 2 billion euros of loan over the next three years to support Smart Cities and sustainable development.
The French government will provide technical assistance on urban development. Experts from the French public sector will be based in the city. They will be coming from the fields of urban transport, water and waste treatment, solar energy, urban planning, architecture and heritage. They will assist the city with their Smart City development plans.