The Antriksh Group is all set to change Delhi’s skyline with its first Smart City project, the Urban Greek. The scheme aims at providing state-of-the-art housing facilities coupled with the latest technology to the end consumers. In a tête-à-tête with AsiaOne, Abhishek Goyat, Managing Director, Antriksh Group talks about the project, its implications and the potential bottlenecks
Antriksh Group’s name has been associated with the Smart City project in India. When did you decide to associate with the project?
Antriksh Group has been associated with authority-led development for the last 25 years. We have delivered more than 50 Group Housing projects in Delhi-NCR regulated by authorities like DDA, HUDA, NOIDA Authority and GDA. However, with the Land Pooling Policy draft getting approved in principle by DDA on 7 Nov 2014, we felt it was time to be associated with the plan of developing the first-ever Smart City in Delhi.
Please tell us about your current Smart City project.How are you trying to make it consumer-friendly?
Antriksh Urban Greek is our first Smart City project in Delhi. We offer fully equipped spacious luxury apartments that come at affordable prices. Our project has excellent designer landscaping and housing amenities, such as jogging tracks, children’s play area, Hi-tech gymnasium, swimming pool along with kid’s pool, basketball court, badminton court, tennis court, mini MP Theatre, 24×7 power backup, club house, 3-tier security system, rain water harvesting and much more. We have always been a customercentric company, and this prompted us to come out with a unique payment plan called ‘No Loan Plan’ where a customer is required to pay only 0.9 percent of his property value every month to buy the property. This is the first time ever that a real estate company in India has done so.
Please elaborate on the concept of Smart City. How will it help change the Indian city’s infrastructure?
A ‘Smart City’ is a self-sustainable city where state-of-the-art technology is used to build the overall infrastructure and provide all amenities like urban planning, water & waste management, healthcare and recreation. In India, there is lack of quality infrastructure and a planned housing facility. The Smart City initiative will certainly go a long way in filling the void.
What are the objectives behind the development of Smart Cities in India?
Today, Indian cities have become engines of growth, and their population is swelling at a faster pace. People from rural areas are flocking to cities in search of better livelihood. This has urged the Government to initiate a ‘Smart City Challenge’, wherein it has handed over the onus of a planned urbanization to respective states. The objective is to promote the creation of cities that provide core infrastructure and offer quality life, clean and sustainable environment and ‘smart’ solutions to its citizens. The fund allocated is indeed a golden opportunity for the states to perk up their urban landscape.
What are the challenges the project may face?
The Smart City mission faces the following challenges:
Transforming the existing city infrastructure to make it smart:
The most important issue that requires attention is the city’s existing weak spots, like water supply and sanitation. However, the integration of the former isolated systems to achieve comprehensive efficiencies can be a significant challenge.
Financing development need of the smart cities:
The Committee on Investment Estimates in Urban Infrastructure has assessed a per capita investment of Rs 43,386 for a period of 20 years. If we take an average figure of 1 million people in each of the 100 smart cities, the total investment required comes around Rs 7 lakh crore; over the next 20 years (with an annual escalation of 10 percent from 2009-10 to 2014-15). This translates into an annual requirement of Rs 35,000 crore. One has to wait and see how these projects will be financed as the majority of them would move through complete private investment or PPPs (publicprivate partnerships).
Coordination between all the agencies involved:
Successful implementation of smart city solutions needs effective horizontal and vertical coordination between various institutions providing a range of municipal amenities as well as better coordination between the central government (MoUD) and state government and local government agencies on various issues related to financing and sharing best practices, and service delivery processes.
Providing clearances in a timely manner:
In order to complete the project on time, all clearances should use online process, and they should be absolved in a time-bound manner. A regulatory body should be set up for all the utility services to provide an ideal playing field to the private sector.
Dealing with a multi-vendor environment:
Another major challenge in the Indian smart city space is that (usually) software infrastructure in the cities contains components supplied by different vendors. Hence, it becomes essential to develop an ability to handle complex combinations of smart city solutions, developed by multiple technology vendors.
Building enough capacity to develop Smart Cities in India:
Capacity building for 100 smart cities is not an easy task! Several ambitious projects at the centre and state levels have been delayed in the past due to lack of skilled manpower. Moreover, only around 5 percent of the central allowance may be allocated for capacity building programs that focus on training, contextual research, knowledge exchange and creating a rich database. Investments in capacitybuilding programs have a multiplier effect as they help in time-bound completion of projects and in designing programs, developing faculty, building databases, designing tool kits and developing decision support systems. As all these have a lag time, capacity building needs to be strengthened, right in the beginning.
The UAE has recently shown its interest in the Indian Smart City project and is ready to invest heavily. How do you perceive this opportunity?
This is truly a positive sign. It will help the Indian real estate market in procuring better technology and more resources than before. It will improve the quality of infrastructure in our country. Cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already modern-day Smart Cities and have world-class infrastructure and planning.
How would the Smart City project help in the overall development of our country infrastructure, employment and economy?
Everything is interrelated. The growth in infrastructure will help in generating employment across industries, which in turn will aid in boosting the overall economic development of the country. Since the Smart City project will involve multiple industries; hence, it will help in generating employment opportunities all over. It will not only create millions of jobs but will also create new entrepreneurs.
Moreover, the Indian Smart City project is a much talked about initiative across the globe. It has been well received, and many countries are planning to associate with this initiative in the best of their capacities. The whole perception about the Indian cities and people’s lifestyle will change in the coming 10 to 15 years. The development has been long due and the initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Smart Cities Project’ will help India become a strong economic hub in the world.
How will Antriksh mould the infrastructural layout of the Indian cities through the Smart City project?
Antriksh group is into real estate development for the last 25 years. We are committed to be one of India’s leading infrastructure developers. As a part of Smart City Initiative, we have land bank in more than 20 cities that have been declared Smart Cities by the Government of India. We will continue to introduce innovation, technology and infrastructural excellence in our work.