Japan to help India launch 24 green cities

By Manish Chand, IANS
Thursday, November 25, 2010

NEW DELHI - Buoyed by a landmark free trade pact and the launch of nuclear negotiations, India and Japan are set to scale a new frontier in bilateral ties by launching 24 green cities in the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).

“Japan and India are planning to set up 24 green cities in the DMIC area,” Aftab Seth, a former Indian ambassador to Japan and a driving force behind the green initiative, told IANS.

The green cities will include optimised energy supplies, 24-hour drinking water supply, bicycle and walking tracks, and waste and water recycling systems.

Preparatory work has already started on pilot projects in seven green cities that will be part of the DMIC, which is bigger in area than Honshu, the largest Japanese island, said Seth. DMIC, spanning six Indian states, is the most ambitious infrastructure project India has launched with Japan, a world leader in green technologies, and is expected to cost $50-90 billion.

Envisaged as a global manufacturing and trading hub, DMIC is expected to be completed in five to seven years.

“Green cities and green technologies will be an important part of the DMIC. It will be like forging a sort of green alliance between India and Japan,” said Seth.

The first of these cities will be developed in the Dholera investment region in Gujarat, 110 km from Ahmedabad.

Top Japanese companies like Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Toshiba are expected to be involved in designing and building eco-friendly towns along the DMIC that will pass through Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

“Basically, every place in this city will be in walking or cyclable distance, thereby cutting the need for pollution-spewing public transportation systems,” said Seth.

To boost green business collaboration, India and Japan are organising here a high-profile Global Eco Business Forum on Nov 30 that will see the participation of top Japanese companies like Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi. Senior Japanese officials, including Masakazu Toyoda, and Ryuji Yanagihara, an expert on green cities, will also be participating.

Minister of Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and DMIC Development Corporation CEO Amitabh Kant will be among those participating from the Indian side.

“The Japanese are 10 times more energy efficient than India,” said Seth, also chairman of Sun and Sands Advisors, Japan’s biggest strategic management and financial advisory for cross-border business between India and Japan.

“It will be an opportunity for the Japanese to display to an influential and practising audience their talent in energy-saving devices and environment-friendly technologies,” he added.

The expanding green collaboration between India and Japan also has a larger geo-strategic dimension as Japan looks at India’s business potential afresh to counter China.

“The Japanese are steadily coming to the realisation that they have put too many eggs in the Chinese basket. There is an unease with China. India is seen in Japan as a more lucrative market than Vietnam or Indonesia,” said Seth, adding the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Pact (CEPA) next month is going to give a big boost to business ties between the two countries.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at manish.c@ians.in)

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