India needs $250 billion in next 20 years for basic urban infrastructure and this offers huge investment opportunities to international investors, said country's Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.
He said the government is committed to promote private domestic and foreign investment in a big way.
The minister told XI Metropolis World Congress that began here Tuesday that the government has decided to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in infrastructure.
"As per estimates of a high power committee, India needs $250 billion in 20 years to put in place basic urban infrastructure relating to transport, water supply, sanitation and solid waste management alone," he said in his speech at the inaugural session of the conference.
Over 1,000 participants, including 135 from 40 countries, are attending the five-day conference to discuss and deliberate on various aspects of making urban cities inclusive with the theme for the event being 'Cities for All'.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan declared open the conference being held in India for the first time by Metropolis, the world association of cities and metropolitan regions with more than a million population.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao also addressed the inaugural session.
Stating that more than 50 percent of Indian population will be living in urban areas by 2050, Venkaiah Naidu this is a challenge but the government wants to convert it into a big opportunity.
The minister described governance and finance as the two obvious challenges of urbanization in India. He said urban areas are the drivers of economic growth as they contribute 60 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"This is expected to go up to 75 percent in 10 to 15 years," he said.
Naidu said efficient planning and effective urban management are very critical to enable urbanization that is sustainable in social, economic and ecological terms.
He told the delegates that Modi government envisaged development of 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernizing existing mid-size cities.
The minister said the central government and states have identified 25 reforms in urban governance to bring transparency and accountability.
On Telangana chief minister's suggestion to give police powers to urban bodies, Naidu said this is a novel idea but need to be discussed across the country for a consensus.