Singapore firm to build 15,000 affordable homes in four cities in Gujarat

Surbana Jurong will lay out a masterplan and begin with some 900 units in Ahmedabad.

Singapore’s urban infrastructure management services consultant, Surbana Jurong, has partnered with the Gujarat government to build 15,000 affordable homes in four cities over a period of four years.

Surbana Jurong will lay out a masterplan and begin with some 900 units in Ahmedabad. The other cities where it will build affordable homes are Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat, Singapore High Commissioner Simon Wong said in a media interaction Tuesday at the end of a two-day visit to the state. According to Surbana Jurong’s website, the project was awarded by the Gujarat Housing Board through a quality and fee-based tender process in 2019 and it is its first project outside Singapore.

“We try to build affordable housing so that the common man has a roof over their head, their children have access to good schools, access to community services and livelihood,” Wong said while calling it an “experiment” with the Gujarat government. The visit precedes the launch of the offshore office of the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) that will open in GIFT City in Gandhinagar at the end of this month.

Wong, who visited GIFT city on Monday, found its design features like Singapore and said: “Singapore will be a catalyst to get other people to come (to GIFT city). I think there is potential for GIFT city. I don’t think it is what other people say — that it is a white elephant.”

To a question on what Singapore sought to gain from a partnership with Gujarat, Wong said, it was a “win-win situation” because it had a “big market for financial (services) that is untapped and I think potential for growth in India is very, very high… You will need a lot of foreign investments coming in… There is need of a financial centre where you can do currency conversion”, for which, he said, GIFT city had the “potential”. Asked how Singapore, which was the second biggest investor in Gujarat, was able to increase its investments in India in a pandemic year — the FDI inflow from Singapore in April-December 2020 was US $15,717 million– Wong said, his country was “prudent” in spending and “even during bad times we are able to put money back into Singapore and in growth areas like India”.

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