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No turning back on Smart Cities, says US envoy

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) There can be “no turning back” on the smart cities revolution, the US ambassador to India Richard R. Verma said here on Thursday, assuring that the American government will continue to help build up smart city projects.

He also said taking the Indo-US cooperation to new height, “new announcements” will be made in next few weeks.

“We aim to deepen and broaden that economic and trade relationship across multiple domains, and I am excited about potential new announcements that could come in the next few weeks.

“There is no turning back on the smart cities revolution – it’s not just the big cities; citizens across America, and now across the globe are demanding smarter, more connected and efficient living spaces. We are pleased to be the leading partner in helping to develop three cities in particular – Vizag, Ajmer and Allahabad,” Verma said at “The Smart Cities Investors Meet” organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries.

Stating that India will be “one of the world’s leaders in the growth of its cities” in the coming years, he said this will also open up challenges and opportunities.

“This is why the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi’s) Smart Cities initiative is so important – so India’s urban centers can be transformed for those who live there,” he said, adding that the US has been a close partner with the Indian government on a wide range of its initiatives, “but we are particularly excited on our work together on Smart Cities”.

These projects aim to make India’s cities more efficient, cleaner, safer, heathier, greener, and modern, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said that the Modi government is on a mission for making of ushering in all-round development in the country.

The minister said that cities are looking at monetizing land assets, introduction of user charges and tax incentive financing.

“Citizens have paid and are willing to pay user charges as long as they get assured and quality services,” he said.

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