Kamal Nath, India’s urban development minister, Wednesday said the next decade has to be called the ‘decade of infrastructure’ in India and stressed that they offer huge opportunities for Europe to participate.
‘We do need the experience and expertise which Europe has developed. There are huge opportunities for partnering in waste recycling, transport, sustainable energy. There are huge opportunities available in India because the numbers are so large,’ Kamal Nath said in his keynote address at the conference on ‘European week of regions and cities’ here.
The event was organised by the Committee of the Regions which is the EU’s Assembly of local and regional representatives and has 344 members, EuAsiaNews reported.
Speaking on the topic ‘India’s Urban Challenges and cooperation with European cities’, the minister stated that the challenges of urbanisation in India is huge and unprecedented in scale.
He estimated that the urban population in India during the next decade will exceed 500 million people, and that in the period 2007-12 infrastructure spending in India will be $500 billion.
He estimated that infrastructure spending has to expand to $1 trillion in the next five years.
‘All across the infrastructure we have a huge deficit whether ports, railways, roads,’ he said and argued that the reason for this deficit is that growth preceded the infrastructures.
‘So what we will be doing in the next five to ten years will not be building for the future but really catching up with the past,’ he said.
In the next decade India will have 68 cities with more than one million population, 15 cities with the population of 4 million and six mega cities with a population of over 10 million.
It is estimated that $1.2 trillion of investments will be required in the urban sectors in India in the next 20 years, 60 percent of which will be in the urban transport sector.
Kamal Nath called on Europe to partner with India in bridging this infrastructure deficit.
‘I do hope that we will be able to create a strong engagement across Europe between our municipalities and cities,’ he concluded.
On her part, Mercedes Bresso, president of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union, spoke of ‘big interest’ for cooperaion with Indian cities.
‘The exchange of experiences of technologies and know-how about our cities can be very interesting and we can learn from specific solutions found by Indian cities,’ she said.
Bresso noted that it was the first time that the committee had invited a speaker from India or the developing world to address its plenary session.
Kamal Nath later Wednesday addressed in Brussels an India-EU business Forum organised by the Kolkata-based Indian Chamber of Commerce where he said the rapid pace of globalisation has changed the economic landscape of the world.
He said India is a big market and investment flows from and inot India are rapidly expanding.
The forum focussed on investment opportunities in north east India and in general on EU-India business opportunities.