Two years after, Smart City foundation stone gathers moss

Kochi, Nov 16 (Inditop.com) Two years after the foundation stone for the Smart City IT park was laid here, the ambitious project is yet to see any progress, thanks to the unresolved issues between the government and the developer.

The government signed an agreement with Smart City Dubai to develop the Rs.1,500-crore project and operate it.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan laid the foundation stone Nov 16, 2007, but the company has not started construction as the government is yet to complete the registration of the land allotted for the project 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.

Smart City Kochi chairman and State Fisheries Minister S. Sarma told reporters Monday that talks between the government and the developer “are still going on” and the government “is hopeful of sorting out issues”.

“See, there is a framework agreement to the project and we are bound to honour that. When demands come from outside the agreement it has to be discussed in detail,” said Sarma.

The proposed project 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.

Meanwhile, the state Congress party has announced that it will organise a “memorial service” Monday evening near the project site as nothing has happened at the site after the stone-laying ceremony.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala, who will inaugurate the memorial service, told IANS that the Left government was “incapable” of doing anything constructive.

“Isn’t a shame that this government has played spoilsport to one of the biggest projects in the state? In the last three-and-a-half years, have they successfully implemented at least one project?” Chennithala asked.

The last round of bilateral talks between the Dubai team and the government was held in September and it ended without any solutions to the contentious issues.

The date for the next round of talks is yet to be announced.