Talks on stalled Kerala project to commence next month

Friday, August 21, 2009

KOCHI - Talks will resume next month with Smart City Dubai to take forward the proposed Smart City Kochi project, a Rs.1,500-crore ($316-million) software township, according to Fisheries Minister and project chairman S. Sarma.

The Kerala government has intimated to Smart City Dubai - a Dubai-based company that is into setting up self-sustained townships for knowledge-based industries - that the talks could be held over two days between Sep 7 and Sep 10, Sarma told reporters here Friday.

“The talks between the government and the company will look into issues raised by Smart City Dubai. Once the meeting is held, we will also hold a meeting of the Smart City Kochi board,” he added.

In June, Smart City Dubai officials said it had withdrawn the contract with the Britain-based master planner Collin Buchnan company to develop the Smart City Kochi project.

The statement had come two weeks after Smart City Dubai requested the state government to ensure 12 percent of the project land be made freehold.

“We are confident that we will be able to sort out all outstanding issues and we will be able to go forward,” said Sarma.

The Smart City Kochi project’s foundation stone was laid Nov 16, 2007 by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, but there has been no progress since then.

Achuthanandan has also accused the Dubai-based developer of making “unreasonable demands”.

The proposed project, to be jointly launched by the state government and Smart City Dubai, is slated to come up on a 246-acre plot with 8.8 million square feet of built-up space, of which 70 percent is earmarked for IT and IT-enabled services.

The government has given a special economic zone status for 136 acres of the project.

But neither has it completed the registration of the land nor settled the stamp duty issue.

–Indo Asian News Service

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