August 11, 2008

Techie Plans To Build Indian City

A wealthy San Francisco tech whiz says he wants to build a sustainable city in India that could eventually be home to 1 million people.

Sabeer Bhatia, 39, has been sitting on a pile of cash and a dream since selling his Hotmail startup firm to Microsoft for $400 million. Now, a decade later, he believes he is ready to bring his vision of Nano City to fruition, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

"How many times in our lives do we get a chance to build a city?" Bhatia said. "How many times do we get an opportunity to fix some of the problems that affect 1.1 billion people -- that's one-sixth of humanity?"

After investing $4 million in planning and consulting, including dealing with Indian bureaucracy, he believes he has found an 11,000-acre site near his hometown in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh. Bhatia also has the support of local officials and business leaders.

Bhatia realizes much could still go wrong with his urban development plan. But he believes he has done enough preparation to have "the right partners, do proper design, provide basic things that you and I take for granted here."