• Smart cities need clear legal & jurisdictional framework for private investment: Eckart Wuerzner, Mayor of Heidelberg

    Smart cities in India have a big potential to attract private investment from contracting companies if the government formulates a clear legal and jurisdictional framework, according to Eckart Wuerzner, Mayor of the City of Heidelberg in Germany.

    “If India formulates a proper framework, there will be a lot of foreign and domestic companies willing to put their money in contracting business in smart cities,” Wuerzner told ETRealty.com on the sidelines of the 28th Wilhelm von Pochhammmer Memorial Lecture organised by Federation of Indo-German Socities in India in collaboration with Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung and India International Centre.

    “Smart cities need private money and contracting is a big concept that can be utilized in India,” he said, adding, “It’s not always subsidy, but a clever marketing instrument to make companies invest.”

    The government also should give subsidies and implementation strategies to companies, according to him.

    Citing the example of Heidelberg, which is an ideal smart city, Wuerzner said the government can easily frame their fair deal contracts under the Indian law and implement it. “Technical potential is there in India already, but it is not being utilised at present,” he said.

    The mayor of the City of Heidelberg also insisted on increasing the citizen participation in smart cities.

    Citing the example of Germany, Wuerzner said citizens should be made accountable for basic things like waste or traffic management by making the services expensive for the defaulters and subsidising the ones who follow the rules properly. “This is a push and pull approach, which might not go well with the citizens initially, but will be merged in the system with time,” he said, adding, “Impulse programmes for citizens to help them partner in the strategy also can help in better implementation of plans.”

    The mayor also highlighted the need of sustainable city planning in big cities like Delhi or Mumbai, planning residential, shopping, economic business areas, etc, together. “If this is planned together, this reduced the traffic in the city,” he said.

    He insisted that smart cities should promote vertical development and need high density areas with concentration of citizens. “A system like SAP or any other system can easily run in such high density cities, leading to proper monitoring and implementation of plans.”

    The government, both at the state and local body levels, have to play a major part for the success of the smart cities, according to Wuerzner. Legalized strategy plan, annual or by-annual reports and self commitment of political leaders of both state and local bodies should be the major pillars of growth.

    “Government should be best practice example. Initiatives such as electrical buses, bikes for employees, are some of the measures that the government should take on its end,” he said.

    Wuerzner also highlighted the need to Empower the urban local bodies with experts. “If you don’t have them, the link is missing,” he said.

    Germany has recently partnered with India to develop Kochi, Bhubaneswar and Coimbatore as smart cities.

    “Most important thing that Germany can bring into India is developing a vision, clear implementation plan, controlling system to implement and a time frame,” said Wuerzner. 

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