Smart City Kochi will be a reality: Achuthanandan

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 25 ( Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Wednesday said the proposed Smart City IT park in Kochi will certainly be a reality even if the present developer pulls out of the project.

“Yes, this would be a reality because we are committed to the project. This would go ahead even if the developer Smart City Dubai backs out,” Achuthanandan told reporters here after the weekly cabinet meeting.

The chief minister laid the foundation stone for the Rs.1,500-crore IT park in November 2007, but the project has not improved any further since then as the government and the developer are yet to resolve some contentious issues.

Asked if the government was looking for other partners, Achuthanandan said: “If need be, we will. But before doing that we want to talk to them (Smart City Dubai) again.”

Company officials say the project did not take off as the government is yet to complete the registration of the land allotted for the IT park and settle a contentious stamp duty issue.

Another hurdle in the implementation of the project is the issue of awarding 12 percent free-hold land to the Dubai-based firm.

The company wants free-hold rights on 12 percent of land meant for the project, but the government says this demand is not part of the framework agreement signed between the two parties.

Achuthanandan, who last week said Smart City Dubai was “broke”, repeated his claim Wednesday, saying the company was facing “some problems” as its major Arab financiers lost huge sums when the US banks collapsed last year.

“They are upset and we know what their financial position is,” said the chief minister.

He added that the company had plans to develop another Smart City in Malta, but it dropped the project later.

The date for the next round of talks is yet to be announced and indications are that it would be the last one and the ultimatum would be given to the company to either take it or leave it.