From a rooftop garden in Amaravati in the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, shoppers can enjoy a sweeping view of the surrounding metropolis. Trains leave a nearby station on time, their clean windows glinting in the sun as they speed past roads free of suffocating traffic.
What may sound too good to be true in a country famous for its congested streets and crumbling infrastructure, is in fact, still only an unrealized vision. But it’s a vision that the head of Andhra Pradesh’s government, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, hopes to realize within a few years. Amaravati is a planned city on the banks of the Krishna River that stands a critical test of India’s drive to create livable space for its rapidly expanding population. Now, only some 14,000 people live in Amaravati, but Mr. Naidu says the population could soar to 12 million once construction is finished. The city is part of a larger national project, the “Smart Cities Mission,” meant to create 100 modern, high-tech cities, virtually from scratch. A separate project will fund the upgrade of 500 existing cities.
For European firms, India’s ambitious plans for urban modernization represent lucrative opportunities. Overall, the construction of Amaravati is slated to cost some €14 billion over the next 15 years, and Mr. Naidu has already tapped a number of European firms that specialize in the use of technology to prevent traffic jams, keep trains and busses running on time, and to avoid crippling disruptions in the electrical grid.