SmartCity Dubai to lose CFO

SmartCity in Dubai is set to lose its executive director for corporate finance Teddy Maroun.

Mr Maroun has held the position for a year but his contract is not being renewed for 2010. SmartCity Dubai said Mr Maroun left the company in a voluntary and planned manner and has been succeeded by a new executive director as planned.

It has been a frustrating year for SmartCity in many ways. SmartCity Malta has also seen the departure of a number of key personnel, including its CEO and its chief financial officer, although it recently issued the tender for the construction of Infrastructure civil works for Phase One.

And the SmartCity Kochi project is also in jeopardy and may be called off. A week ago, Smart City Dubai served an ultimatum to the Kerala government saying the proposed Rs.1,500-crore Smart City Kochi IT project could not be kept hanging 'endlessly', following a board meeting. The foundation stone for the park at Kochi was laid in 2007 and was to create 90,000 jobs. But the project has ground to a halt because of problems with the allocation of the 12 per cent freehold rights to Smart City Dubai. The Indian chief minister for the state has claimed that the real problem is lack of funds.

Source

No productive insight in Kochi Smart City IT project impasse

Even as Smart City Dubai last week served an ultimatum to the Kerala government saying the proposed Rs.1,500-crore Smart City Kochi IT project cannot be kept hanging 'endlessly', a board meeting ended Wednesday with differences of opinion continuing between the two partners.

Emerging from the hour-long meeting, Smart City Kochi chairman and State Fisheries Minister S. Sarma told reporters that talks would continue.

'You know there are differences of opinion between us and Smart City Dubai. The chief minister is out of station, and once he returns, we will brief him about what happened today and a date for another round of discussion would be decided,' said Sarma.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had in November 2007 laid the foundation stone for the mega IT park at Kochi -- to be built by Smart City Dubai -- which will come up on a 246-acre plot and is expected to create 90,000 jobs.

But since then, nothing has moved with differences cropping up over granting of 12 percent freehold rights to Smart City Dubai.

While the Dubai partner wants a written agreement that this would be given after the master plan is ready, the government is not ready to give inalienable rights to them.

Fareed Abdulrahman of Smart City Dubai, who is also Smart City Kochi chief executive, said his company wished to make it clear that it did not want freehold land immediately, but only after the master plan was prepared.

'We will make it happen, we will make it happen,' Abdulrahman said.

With both parties hopeful of resolving the issues, it now remains to be seen when the next meeting takes place.

Source

No decision taken on Smart City Kochi

The director board convened today was not able to solve the dispute between the state government and TECOM in connection with the establishment of the Smart City project. TECOM was firm in their stand of having 12% independent rights.

Smart City chairman S Sarma informed them that they cannot accept their demand. So, the government said that they will inform them after holding talks with the chief minister.

Meantime, the government said they have not decided to move on with the project avoiding TECOM.
Reviving the proposed SmartCity Kochi project that has been in a limbo for sometime now, a meeting of the board of directors of the company has been scheduled at Kovalam on Wednesday at 6.30 p.m.

SmartCity Kochi chief executive officer Fareed Abdulrahman; vice-chairman Rashid Lathif Almullah; and business development manager Mithun Beeru are expected to attend the meeting. This is the sixth director board meeting of SmartCity Kochi, of which Fisheries Minister S. Sarma is the chairman.

The meeting assumes significance amidst reports that the State government was considering a replacement for SmartCity in the project. Also the time fixed by SmartCity, and reiterated many times by Abdulrahman, to see some progress in the project was set to expire this month.

After the last meeting of the board of directors and the subsequent Chief Secretary-level talks in September failed to reach a consensus on a host of contentious issues, the State government kept on repeating that it was working on ways to schedule further talks with the Dubai-based promoters of the project to remove the hurdles hindering the progress of the project.

Source

Kerala govt ready for talks with Tecom: Kerala CM

The Kerala government Wednesday said it is ready to talk with Dubai-based promoters over the Rs 1,500-crore Kochi SmartCity IT project, which has been delayed by over a year due to land acquisition problems. The Government has informed the Dubai-based Tecom authorities about the steps taken so far in this regard and that it was prepared to hold talks with the firm, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said here.

The state government has maintained that Tecom was raising demands which were not in accordance with the agreement. However, Tecom has said it will not wait beyond December 2010 and would be forced to rethink on the project.

Achuthanandan said the date for discussions with Tecom would be later decided.

’December is not a deadline, but it is a point past which we have to rethink about the future of the project’, Smart city CEO Fareed Abdulrahaman had said.

Dispute over the 39 acres ’freehold land’ out of 249 acres allotted for the project has delayed the project for which foundation stone was laid a year ago.

SmartCity insists that freehold land was a contractual right but government says it cannot give away land with selling rights to the promoters to make real estate gains.

Source

SmartCity Kochi: Kerala Govt. ready for talks with Dubai promoters

The Kerala government said on Wednesday it is ready to talk with Dubai-based promoters over the Rs 1,500-crore (Rs 15-billion) Kochi SmartCity IT project, which has been delayed by over a year due to land acquisition problems.

The government has informed the Dubai-based Tecom authorities about the steps taken so far in this regard and that it was prepared to hold talks with the firm, chief minister V S Achuthanandan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.

The state government has maintained that Tecom was raising demands which were not in accordance with the agreement.

However, Tecom has said it will not wait beyond December 2010 and would be forced to rethink on the project.

Achuthanandan said the date for discussions with Tecom would be later decided. 'December is not a deadline, but it is a point past which we have to rethink about the future of the project', Smart city CEO Fareed Abdulrahaman had said.

Dispute over the 39 acres 'freehold land' out of 249 acres allotted for the project has delayed the project for which foundation stone was laid a year ago.

SmartCity insists that freehold land was a contractual right but government says it cannot give away land with selling rights to the promoters to make real estate gains.

Source

Smart City Kochi:Tecom Dubai serves ultimatum to Kerala government

Smart City Dubai Monday served an ultimatum to the Kerala government, saying the Rs.1,500 crore Smart City Kochi project cannot be kept hanging in the balance “endlessly”.

In a statement issued here, Smart City Dubai said “we have to rethink about the future of the project”.

“But as mentioned earlier decisions can be taken within minutes and there is no point waiting endlessly or delaying this far. Our commitment to Kerala and the people of Kerala is important to us and we hope to begin the project soon.”

Smart City Dubai also said they have always welcomed discussions for speedy progress of the project so that issues could be sorted out and bottlenecks removed.

“In fact, the last round of talks held with the Kerala government was on Oct 1, 2009. We are yet to receive any invitation from them for any other discussions. Moreover, we have sent an invitation to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan for him to visit Dubai so that issues may be discussed and sorted out. We have not received any response to the invitation,” said Smart City Dubai.

On the contentious 12 percent freehold issue over which the project is hanging fire, it said that the framework agreement was “crystal clear” in its provision for freehold for Smart City Kochi, an Indian company with the Kerala government as its partner. The agreement is available in the public domain for anyone to examine, the statement added.

“We have constantly assured Kerala that the land will be used for the good of the state. Yet, we are unable to understand the reasons or intentions behind delaying the project in this manner. We have made no new demands on this issue. In fact, Smart City has not asked for the freehold land to be transferred to us right now.

“As per the framework agreement, the land is to be transferred only after the master plan has been completed. Smart City Kochi has only asked for assurance that when the master plan is over, freehold will be provided. The assurance has been requested in the form of a letter or by incorporating this into the second lease. The project is certainly being delayed despite our best efforts to communicate with them to sort out issues,” reads the statement.

The company was reacting to the recent statement by Achuthanandan that not an inch of land given to it can be sold. Achuthanandan has said in case the company is unable to abide by the agreement then Kerala will have to look for other options.

Achuthanandan had laid the foundation stone for the Smart City Kochi project in November 2007. It is proposed to come up in a 246 acre plot.

Source
It’s a 'take it or leave it' moment for Dubai-based Tecom Investments, as it gears up for the final round of talks with Kerala government to end the deadlock over the IT infrastructure joint venture Smartcity in Kochi. As if the gloom of Dubai debt woes was not enough, Tecom is likely to face the humiliation of its mantelpiece Indian investment in the $400-million Indian project to be passed over to other aspiring investors.

When asked about the offer from Muthoot Pappachan Group, chief minister VS Achuthanandan said, “There is no dearth of potential investors for Kochi Smartcity, at this point. Including one of the top firms in the US, there has been quite a few investors keen to take up the project, if Dubai Tecom backs out." Muthoot Pappachan Group had announced its interest to substitute the Dubai partner in the Smartcity venture, in case Tecom backs out.

The 8.8-million sq ft IT infrastructure plan, envisaging 90,000 direct jobs in 10 years, had been dragging feet for the last two years, with both partners- Kerala government and Dubai Tecom- often slipping into a war of words. Farid Abdul Rahman, CEO, SmartCity Kochi, points out the state government gives no assurance that 12% of the land meant for the project would be freehold.

Meanwhile, the Gulf-based investors, who had competed with Tecom, right before it inked the Smartcity MoU in 2007, do not anymore enjoy deep pockets. For instance, Dubai-based Emmar group, world's largest real estate developer (in terms of market capitalisation), had, then, offered to invest in IT infrastructure in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram through its Indian arm Emmar-MGF. Significantly, chief minister was cautious at this juncture not to reiterate his familiar refrain that Tecom was short of resources. Asked if the Dubai financial crisis could hit Kochi's dream project, Achuthananthan said, "There is no need to drag it into the SmartCity picture." Only last week, Tecom came out with a rejoinder to Achuthananthan for his earlier comments that the Dubai firm's financial state was pathetic. "Comments that may question our commitment or our legal obligations towards this very important project are misplaced,", SmartCity Kochi CEO said. To demonstrate the financial stability, the company even invited Kerala chief minister to visit its Dubai business facility. In response, the government invited Tecom for talks on the freehold-dispute. This time, the Dubai firm has agreed to call on Kerala...

Source
The Kerala government today said it would hold talks with TECOM Investments, the Dubai based joint venture partner of an industry cluster project in Kochi, for implementing the project sanctioned in 2007.

Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that talks would be held for "one more time" with TECOM, a member of Dubai Holding, but insisted that the financial crisis in Dubai had nothing to do with the lack of progress in the SmartCity IT park project.

Asked whether the Dubai financial crisis would hinder progress of the Rs 1,500 crore project, he said there was no need to bring that into the picture.

SmartCity Kochi Deal off, says S.Sharma if TECOM adamant

The deal between Kerala government and TECOM will have to be declared null and void if the later remains adamant on free-hold rights for 12 per cent of land, fisheries minister S. Sharma said Sunday

In that case the next cabinet meet will decide on the future course of action he said. He said though several private players have evinced interest in the roject no talks have been held in this regard

The company wants free-hold rights on 12 per cent of land meant for the project, but according to the government his demand is not part of the framework agreement signed between the two parties.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had Saturday asked Smart City Dubai, the developer of a proposed IT park here, to stick to the framework agreement or else the government would "look for other options".

Earlier, the chief minister had said the Dubai firm was financially "broke" and was now coming up with fresh demands that were not part of the framework agreement signed by the two sides to delay the project.

Source

TECOM will not be given land for sale, says Kerala CM

TECOM will not be given a piece of land for sale in the name of Smart City Project, said Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan. Talking after inaugurating the second phase of developmental works of Info Park in Kochi, VS said there is no uncertainty regarding the Smart City Project. The project will be completed with the help of other companies. TECOM is voicing things which are not in the MoU.

Smart city Kochi: Muthoot Pappachan Group expresses interest

Kerala-based Muthoot Pappachan Group has expressed interest in taking over and developing the Smart city project. The board which met on Thursday morning took this decision. The Muthoot Group had earlier shown interest in the project at the time of its inception.

The decision by Muthoot comes after the Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan cast doubts on the financial ability
of Dubai-based Tecom to develop the joint venture park. The Muthoot Group said that it is ready to deliver the estimate of project cost if the government needs it.

Earlier, in a statement issued in Dubai, Tecom CEO said if the Chief Minister had any doubts about the financial position of the company and its commitment to the project he could visit its campuses in Dubai to get himself convinced.

Source

SmartCity Kochi dream takes another beating

The long-standing dream of the Kochi SmartCity project - projected as an infrastructure project that would help that city and Kerala move into another gear of economic development - has suffered another stinging blow.

State Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan publicly expressed doubts about the competence of the Dubai-based Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (Tecom) to undertake the project, stating that they were themselves in trouble. Tecom is the state government's partner in the project.

Mr Achuthanandan said that the Dubai company was in a "really pathetic" condition and that they were raising points that were not in the original agreement for the project, adding that the state government would go ahead with the project even in the absence of Tecom. He went on to suggest that a similar project Tecom has in Malta may also not be doing too well.

The Chief Minister has been critical of Tecom in the past but the latest outburst against the Dubai company has given the impression that the state government-Tecom association for the SmartCity project is in deep trouble. The CM had himself laid the foundation stone for the Rs 1,700-crore project two years ago, after which there has been little progress on the project.

Among the main stumbling blocks for the project is a demand by Tecom for freehold status on 12 per cent of the land for the project but the state government is not in agreement with the suggestion, arguing that it was not part of the original understanding.

The Chief Minister said on Wednesday that if the government was going ahead with another partner, it would do that only after talking to SmartCity officials. This is the second time in a fortnight that the Chief Minister is suggesting that the Dubai company may have suffered owing to the financial setback in the Arab world owing to the crisis in the US.

The real estate market in Kakkanad in Kochi, that had soared on the wings of the SmartCity project, is expected to take another correction following the development. The realty market had already dipped owing to the economic slowdown, and further delay in realizing the SmartCity project may dent the market more.

The project envisages 88 lakh sq ft of built-up space on a 246-acre campus and creation of about 90,000 direct jobs.

Source
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Within hours of Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan stating that the Dubai-based promoters of the SmartCity Kochi was in a "pathetic" condition, the Dubai company has extended an invitation to the CM to visit its business operations there. In an official statement, SmartCity Kochi CEO Fareed Abdulrahman said his company was "fully committed" to the Kochi project. "Despite the delays beyond our control, we would like to reaffirm our intention to complete this project successfully for the benefit of the people and economy of Kerala. To that end, we have the full support, financially, operationally and otherwise, from our parent company, Tecom Investments", he said.

Mr Abdulrahman said that he wished to highlight his company's commitment towards its legal obligations as outlined in the framework agreement of the project, adding that all parties should be diligent and uncompromising with regard to the agreement. "Therefore, comments that may question our commitment or our legal obligations towards this very important project are misplaced and could impair our shared vision", he said.

The statement said that the company had extended an invitation to the CM "to visit our business operations in Dubai", in addition to highlighting the company's portfolio of business parks.

"Looking ahead, we seek better understanding and cooperation from our counterparts and partners. We would also like to reassure the people of Kerala that SmartCity Kochi is very much a priority for us and we will exert every effort to guarantee its successful fruition", Mr Abdulrahman said.

Source

Smart City Kochi:Deadline seems to be a ‘dead’ line

Criticising the Government of Kerala for the endless delay in taking decisions regarding the Smart City project, sources close to Tecom said that the implementing agency would have to rethink the future of the project if the government failed to reach a consensus before December 31. “Deadline seems to be a ‘dead’ line’.Tecom is a business entity and projects are based on milestones and timelines.

The State Government has been constantly asking Tecom for deadlines when the transfer of land is still pending. The project will pick up pace only after the land is transferred,” sources said.

The deadline given by Tecom ends in 2009 and the government will have to take a decision on several key issues before that, they said. “The government seems least bothered about the project,” sources said.

The government had earlier made it clear that it did not want the Smart City project to be a real-estate project and it was due to the by-polls that the decision on ‘freehold land’ was delayed. The government also hinted at inviting new promoters for the project if Tecom retracted.

Sources alleged that the government seemed to be giving the media the impression that it had done everything in its power to solve the problems and that government representatives are communicating with Tecom authorities.

“The State Government is not ready to take the responsibility for the project.

Tecom is ready for compromise by no one seems to listen to them,” said sources.

“During the two meetings held between the State Government and Tecom several suggestions for addressing the state’s concerns about freehold land were put across but none of those have been considered by the decision makers. The government has its own interpretations about freehold land and has turned a deaf ear,” sources said.

The board meeting to be held in December will be the forum to decide the next course of action, said Tecom sources.


Source

Smart City Dubai is Lacking funds: Kerala Chief Minister

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Wednesday said Smart City Dubai, the developer of the proposed Smart City IT park in Kochi, was “broke”.
“Since they (Smart City Dubai) don’t have money, they are now trying to come up with numerous excuses,” the chief minister told reporters here when he was asked about the delay of the project.

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

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 earlier this week that talks between the government and the developer “are still going on” and the government “is hopeful of sorting out issues”.

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

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

Source

Kerala Opposition Party launches campaign for SmartCity Kochi

The Congress Party that leads Kerala’s opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has launched a campaign for an ambitious IT project, put on hold due to differences between the state government and its Dubai-based promoters.

Ramesh Chennithala, president of the Kerala unit of the party, kicked off the campaign by placing a wreath on the foundation stone of the $350mn SmartCity Kochi project that Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan laid two years back.

SmartCity, which seeks to promote a global network of self-sustained townships for knowledge-based industries, put the project on hold after a dispute over land.

The lease agreement signed on May 13, 2007 lapsed last year and a fresh agreement is yet to be signed. The last round of bilateral talks was held in September and it ended without setting the date for the next round.

The issue has become a subject of heated debate in the state that has one of the highest unemployment rates in India. The UDF highlighted this during its campaign for an assembly by-election held here early this month which its candidate won.

“The plight of such big projects with huge employment potential would be one of the issues that we are going to raise (in the coming elections),” said Chennithala. “It’s a shame that the government has played spoilsport to the biggest foreign investment to the state. They should explain what’s holding them back.”

The SmartCity authorities had earlier sought an assurance from the government on the land by December to save the project but no positive signals came from the state so far. It has since closed down its office here too.

The Kochi project, which is expected to create 90,000 jobs, failed to take off even six years after negotiations began — first due to political opposition and now lack of proactive policies.

The IT industry expects a quantum jump in its software exports with the establishment of similar projects. While Karnataka’s exports touched Rs749.29bn in 2008-09 and Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu exported software worth more than Rs300bn each, Kerala accounted for a poor Rs18.53bn, employing less than 30,000 IT professionals.

Four other mega IT infrastructure projects with a total employment potential of more than 200,000 also hit roadblocks after acquiring land as the government failed to accord the necessary clearances.

Source
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 on November 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 per cent 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.
Coming down heavily upon the Tecom authorities, the main promoters of SmartCity project., Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac said, the Tecom cannot dictate the government were to sign and what not to do.
Thomas Isaac said, the Tecom is putting some fresh demands and the LDF government is not liable to heed to each demand put forward by Tecom

Thomas Isaac said, like the UDF government the LDF will not succumb to pressure tactics.
Minister said, the government is committed to implement the project and the project will materialize at the same place where it was planned
Thomas Isaac added that, the project was bought to Kochi after several rounds of discussion at various levels.

Last week, Kodiyeri BalakrishnanMinister of Home Affairs had said that, the government would look for “other options” if Smart City Dubai, the developer of the proposed Rs.1,500-crore ($300 million) IT project, did not resolve its differences with the state and start construction soon.

Chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan had laid the foundation stone of the project Nov 16, 2007, but there has been no progress since then.The project has hit a road block with over the issue of giving 12 percent freehold land to the Dubai firm.
The government has given a special economic zone status for 136 acres of the project.
But it has neither completed the registration of the land nor settled a contentious stamp duty issue.

Last month, a two-day meeting between state government officials and a Dubai team failed to break the deadlock.

Via

Kerala Pressurising Tecom to start Work Smart City Soon

Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan Monday said the government would look for "other options" if Smart City Dubai, the developer of the proposed Rs.1,500-crore ($300 million) IT project, did not resolve its differences with the state and start construction soon.
"The government is committed to the project and if they (Smart City Dubai) don't solve the issues then we will look for other options," Balakrishnan said while speaking at an election campaign near here.


The 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.


Chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan had laid the foundation stone of the project Nov 16, 2007, but there has been no progress since then.


The project has hit a road block with over the issue of giving 12 percent freehold land to the Dubai firm.


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


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


Last month, a two-day meeting between state government officials and a Dubai team failed to break the deadlock.

Via

18 hole Golf course in Nedumbassery by CIAL

A 18-hole Country Club golf course developed by the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) on its land would be inaugurated before December 2009, CIAL officials have said. The process to induct members will begin within two months.

The golf course is built on a property adjacent to the airport, and it will be the largest golf course in the State. The course will embrace five aqua patches covering 60 sq m and a playing area of over 7,200 yards with ‘Bermuda tidwarf on the greens and Bermuda 419 on fairways and trees.’


The cost of the project has been brought down to Rs.18 crore from the initial estimate of Rs. 56 crore by reworking the total investment in a phased manner and adopting a low-cost construction model. The company proposes the use of plants, including medicinal plants and shrubs endemic to the region, in the spaces between the fairways as part of reducing costs. “The cost reduction has been made possible by reworking the total investment proposal and by adopting traditional architecture and indigenous inputs. At the same time, we have ensured that resorting to traditional methods do not in any way affect the standard of facilities provided,” said a senior airport official. He said the company was planning to launch the initial phase of the project to generate income for further expansion works so that a full-fledged operation could be started within the next few years.

Yet to hear from TECOM about their Final Stand: S. Sarma

Fisheries Minister S. Sarma said that the government was yet to hear from TECOM, the Dubai-based promoters of the SmartCity Project in Kochi, about their final stand on issues discussed at the conference held at Kovalam recently to end the imbroglio over the project.

The State government had taken the stand that while the land sought by them as free hold could be given, it would not grant them the right to sell the land. The promoters wanted the right to sell the land.

However, the government stuck to the terms of the original agreement. They had stated that they would communicate their final decision on the issue after reaching Dubai.

The Minister, who is heading the joint sector company formed to implement the project, said that the government wanted the issue to be decided soon. It had not fixed any cut-off date and had not thought of alternatives. The Cabinet would discuss Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan’s report on the talks next week.

Via
The sixth meeting of the board of directors of the SmartCity Kochi will be held at the Taj Green Cove Resort at Kovalam on Wednesday at 6.30 p.m.

Fareed Abdulrahman, Chief Executive Officer, SmartCity, Rashid Lathif Almullah, Vice Chairman, SmartCity Kochi, Ravi Gill and Anirudha Dhamke, Directors, SmartCity, Mithun Beeru, Business Development Manager, SmartCity, Kochi, are expected to attend the meeting. Fisheries Minister S. Sarma, who is also the Chairman of SmartCity Kochi, State IT Secretary, Ajay Kumar, Siddhartha Bhattacharya, CEO, Infopark, are expected to represent the State government at the meeting.

The board is meeting after a long gap of nine months after differences over the issue of 12 per cent freehold land held up the progress of the project ever since the last board meeting held on December 21 last year. The meeting is being viewed as a precursor to the discussion between Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan and SmartCity officials scheduled to be held from Thursday. Major breakthroughs, if any, were expected at this meeting, it is learnt.

A two-day meeting that Ms. Gangadharan had with the SmartCity team led by Abdulrahman earlier this month had proved inconclusive. It was during this meeting that a decision was taken to convene the board meeting and to further continue the chief secretary-level talks immediately thereafter to iron out the differences.
Talks to solve the Smart City project remains inconclusive here on Thursday. Smart City CEO Fareed Abduraham looked positive after the talks on Wednesday. Though nothing has been decided, discussions with the TECOM officials may continue.

The Director Board of Smart City will meet on September 30.

The main issue was the 12 percent freehold land demanded by TECOM. The Government stated that some of the demands by TECOM were not convincing. After Wednesday's talk, the government sector feels that fresh talks may prove fruitful. For the government, minister S Sarma, IT secretary Ajayakumar, CM's principal secretary Sheela Thomas, chief secretary Neela Gangadharan and law secretary participated. The meet which began at 11 am concluded by noon.

Smart city Kochi : Talks to continue Thursday

Talks to solve the Smart city project would continue on Thursday as well. Smart City CEO Fareed Abduraham looks positive after the talks on Wednesday. The main issue was the 12 percent freehold land demanded by TECOM. The Government stated that some of the demands by TECOM were not convincing. After Wednesday's talk, the government sector feels that fresh talks may prove fruitful. For the government, minister S Sarma, IT secretary Ajayakumar, CM's principal secretary Sheela Thomas, chief secretary Neela Gangadharan and law secretary participated. The meet which began at 11 am concluded by noon.

Smart city: Crucial talks begin

Thiruvananthapuram: The crucial talk between the state government and Smart City officials to take forward the proposed Smart City Kochi software township project, began here on Wednesday.

On Tuesday chief minsiter V S Achuthanandan said that the existing lease agreement with TECOM that was signed long ago has expired and a new agreement will have to be worked out, and for that talks will resume on Wednesday with them here,' said Achuthanandan.

The chief minister had laid the foundation stone of the Rs.1,500-crore ($316-million) IT township project Nov 16, 2007, but there has been no progress since then.

In June, the Dubai firm said it had withdrawn a contract given to the Britain-based master planner Collin Buchanan to develop the Kochi project.

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

'Yes, we are committed to the 12 percent freehold aspect but some of their other demands are not that convincing. But nevertheless whatever we can resolve through talks we will do,' added Achuthanandan who also handles the IT portfolio.

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

Meanwhile, in a statement Tuesday, the Dubai firm said a company team would arrive at Thiruvanathapuram to hold discussions with the state's chief secretary.

'The meeting will focus on the pending issues causing setbacks to the development of Smart City Kochi,' said the statement.

'Once the pending issues are resolved, the planning and operational activities will be intensified. We are fully committed to the project,' the Dubai firm said.

Source

SmartCity Kochi Crucial Meeting today @ 11 a.m.

Creating an air of optimism ahead of their meeting with the Chief Secretary on ways to ensure the progress of the SmartCity project in Kochi, Tecom, the Dubai-based promoters of the project, have issued a statement reassuring their commitment to the project.

A high level delegation led by SmartCity Chief Executive Officer Fareed Abdulrahman is set to hold discussions with Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. The meeting will be held at the Chief Secretary’s chamber at 11 a.m. Mr. Abdulrahman is likely to brief reporters thereafter.

The project, a joint venture of Dubai-based SmartCity and the State government, had been in a limbo ever since differences of opinion cropped up between the stakeholders over a host of issues.

The meeting is expected to come out with some solutions to set the project in motion.

To start off with, the statement issued from Dubai confirms the arrival of SmartCity officials for talks with the chief secretary.

“The meeting will focus on the pending issues causing setbacks to the development of SmartCity Kochi,” the statement said. This was a reiteration of the promoters’ stand for long that they were prepared only to discuss, what they perceived as, “pending issues.”

This included registration of the fresh lease and incorporating in it various provisions of the Framework Agreement signed between SmartCity and the State government, and acquisition of 19 cents (0.08 hectare) located at the centre of a land measuring 114 acres (46 hectares)

The most important issue, however, was regarding inclusion of a clause pertaining to 12 per cent freehold land in the fresh lease.

The State government stand on this issue, however, was that this could wait till the master plan for the project was ready.

“Once the pending issues are resolved, the planning and operational activities will be intensified to push forward with SmartCity Kochi.
SmartCity is fully committed to the project and believes in its partnership with the Government of Kerala to make it a proud reality,” the statement further added.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan says the government is hopeful of clearing the air over the SmartCity project through Wednesday’s discussion with Tecom.



Source
Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan today informed Assembly that, steps would be taken to sign a fresh land deed document with Tecom authorities soon. Chief Minister also informed that, 132 acres of land which was set aside for the project has been grated SEZ status.

The project, which is hanging in limbo for some time now is expected to gain momentum after the representatives of Tecom, the promoters of the proposed Smart City project in Kochi will reach here on 9 September for comprehensive discussions with state government.
A team led by Fareed Abdulrahman, Executive Director of TECOM will hold discussions with Chief Secretary regarding the implementation of the project.

The issue of ‘freehold right’ cropped up when the Dubai-based Tecom Investments insisted that the company wanted a free hold right on the 12 percent of total land.

The proposed project, to be jointly launched by the state government and infrastructure major Smart City, 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 foundation stone of the project was laid Nov 16, 2007 by Achuthanandan and since then, barring a few board meetings, there has been no movement in the project.

News Via

Smart City Malta Work in progress

SmartCity Malta has achieved notable progress in the construction of SCM01.

The foundation and retaining structure works at SCM01 have been completed and SmartCity Malta is now engaged in the construction of the super-structure. Aligned with this structural progress, the fa├žade works have also commenced with the appointed local contractor.

SCM01 is the first SmartCity building in Phase One currently under construction. It will consist of 12,000 square meters of ready-to-use Grade A offices to be completed and handed over to the first business partners by 2010, as scheduled.

SmartCity Malta has submitted its application to MEPA for the site-wide grading permit for all phases of the self-sustained business township which will cover the lagoon, shopping boulevard and the residential area. The tender for the site-wide grading has also been issued and grading works are expected to commence shortly.

SmartCity Malta has further invested in an extensive value-engineering exercise to maximise the efficiency of the design and implementation of the entire project. This has resulted in drastic volumetric reductions of excavated earthwork material which is recycled and rehabilitated on the site. By conducting such exercises SmartCity Malta continues to follow sound building practices.

The planning and construction works at SmartCity Malta are shaping up at a fast pace and the building structure is on target according to plan.

Via
The proposed visit of Chief Executive Officer of the Dubai-based SmartCity Fareed Abdulrahman to Kerala on September 9 has revived hopes of ending the stalemate that brought the planned SmartCity Kochi project to a halt.

Mr. Abdulrahman will hold discussions with Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan in Thiruvananthapuram on what SmartCity calls “pending issues.” The State Cabinet had urged Ms. Gangadharan to ensure that progress was made in the implementation of the project.

Mr. Abdulrahman is expected to emphasise on incorporating in the fresh lease various provisions in the Framework Agreement that SmartCity signed with the government in May 2007. This included adding “unacquired patta land” of 19 cents (0.08 hectare) located in the centre of a piece of land measuring 114 acres (46 hectares) and, more importantly, incorporating a clause pertaining to 12 per cent freehold land.

He will also bring up the issue of perceived confusion regarding the 100 acres of KSEB land handed over for the project and acquiring Special Economic Zone status for it.

SmartCity had made it clear that any progress on the project depended on the outcome of the discussions with the Chief Secretary. It had also ruled out holding a meeting of the board of directors unless a decision was reached on the pending issues.

The last six months saw a worsening of relations between SmartCity and the State government. After the fifth meeting of the board of directors on December 22 last year and Mr. Abdulrahman’s meeting with the Chief Minister on February 19, hardly any official communication took place between the stakeholders.

Things appeared to be getting back on track when Mr. Abdulrahman issued a press release on February 23 hailing the statement of Fisheries Minister S. Sarma, who is also chairman of SmartCity Kochi, that the government was ready to sign a fresh lease agreement. But thereafter things petered out.

Mr. Abdulrahman was in the city on June 1. Though he addressed the media, he did not meet any government representative. The government then entrusted the Chief Secretary with suggesting ways to move forward.

Via


Chief Executive Officer of the Dubai-based SmartCity Fareed Abdulrahman will arrive in the State on September 9. His visit is expected to revive hopes of making some headway in the stalemate that had brought the proposed SmartCity Kochi project to a halt.

Mr. Abdulrahman would hold talks with Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan in Thiruvananthapuram on what SmartCity regards as “pending issues.”

The Cabinet had entrusted Ms. Gangadharan to report on ways to make progress in the implementation of the project.

Mr. Fareed is expected to emphasise on incorporating in the fresh lease various provisions in the Framework Agreement that SmartCity signed with the State government in May 2007.

This included adding of “unacquired patta land” of 19 cents (0.08 hectare) located at the centre of a land measuring 114 acres (46 hectares) and more importantly incorporating a clause pertaining to 12 per cent freehold land.

He would also raise the perceived confusion regarding the 100 acres of KSEB land handed over for the project and acquiring Special Economic Zone status for it.

SmartCity had made it clear that any progress of the project hangs on the outcome of the discussions with the Chief Secretary. It had also ruled out holding a meeting of the board of directors unless a decision was reached on these pending issues.

After the fifth meeting of the board of directors held on December 22 last year and thereafter Mr. Abdulrahman’s visit to meet Chief Minister on February 19, hardly any official communication had taken place between the stakeholders except for the statements in the media from either side.

Things seemed to be appeared back on track when on February 23, Mr. Abdulrahman issued a press release hailing the statement of Fisheries Minister S. Sarma, who is also the chairman of SmartCity Kochi, to the effect that the State government was ready to sign the fresh lease agreement at any time as the promoters desired. But thereafter things petered out.

Source

Update!

SmartCity Kochi invited for talks

Registration Minister S. Sarma says the State government has invited officials of the SmartCity for discussions from September 7 to September 10.

Talks on Smart City Kochi project to commence next month

Smart City Kochi projectTalks 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.

HDIL Cyber City may become reality

HDIL Cyber City, Kalamasserry, Kochi
A division bench of Justice Bannurmath and Justice Kurian Joseph has given its decision on the controversial HMT land deal. The HC has directed Blue Star Realtors to use the land only for industrial purposes. The court said that HMT has the right to sell the 100 acres of land and the court has ruled that the land can be utilised for industrial use.

The scam pertains to the sale of 70 acres by public sector undertaking Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) to Blue Star Realtors, which got the contract to build the Cyber City. The land deal has been challenged in the Kerala High Court.

There was an allegation that HMT sold the land to Blue Star Realtors in violation of the clauses in the agreement reached between the PSU and the State Government.

After the land deal became a controversy, the State Government constituted a high-level committee to review the sale.

  • HDIL Group for setting up a Rs.2000 cr cyber City near Kalamassery
  • The project would provide employment to 65,000 people.
  • The proposed cyber city will be spread over 70 acres of land
  • Cyber City would have a total built-up area of 7.9 million sq ft

Kochi SmartCity : Kerala govt. asks Tecom to convene Board meeting

Tecom, the promoters of the Smart City project, Kochi, has been asked to convene the Board meeting of the company, said S. Sarma, Minister for Fisheries.

By law, the Board meetings should be convened once in three months and this was violated in the case of Smart City. Though the government had written to the Chief Executive Officer of the company 12 days ago regarding the meeting, there was no response.

The freehold of the property, as demanded by the Tecom, has not been defined in the framework agreement of the project and this needs to be addressed. The director board of the company should be convened to discuss the issue, he said.

Source

Kochi Smart City : talks to resume soon : Minister

The Minister for Fisheries S. Sarma said here on Thursday that talks with Gulf-based TECOM for starting the work on the Smart City Project in Kochi would resume soon.

Implementation of the project had come to a standstill following TECOM's demand that the government should release the land promised to be given free to the company for implementing the project. However, the Government maintained that the land could be given only after approval of the master plan and commencement of work on the project.

Mr. Sarma, who is heading the joint sector company formed to implement the Smart City Project, said that this involved a policy decision and the matter was under consideration of the government.

He said that the project would not be lost because of any stand of the government, provided that the promoters were willing to go by the agreement signed by them with the government.

The Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan had said on Wednesday that there was progress in resolving the issue though a breakthrough was yet to be achieved.


Source

ONGC starts ultra-deep oil exploration in Kochi

State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on Sunday launched its first ultra-deep sea oil exploration in the Kerala-Konkan basin with spudding operation being started at the site.

The project, expected to be completed in 100 days time, would cost Rs400 crore, ONGC chairman and managing director R S Sharma told reporters here.

Sharma said the initial appraisal of the project has been “quite satisfactory.”

ONGC, which began its exploration activities on the Kerala-Konkan offshore in 1977, has so far drilled 12 exploratory wells - nine in shallow waters and three in deep waters. However, commercial hydrocarbon strike has eluded in spite of a few wells giving hydrocarbon indications.

This is the first exploration in the ultra-deep waters of about 6,000 metres. There are three horizons - 3900 metres, 5,000 metres and 6,000 metres. The target was to reach 3,900 metres in 15-29 days time, Sharma said.

Exploration activities carried out in various blocks in the basin had now revealed new likely ‘hydrocarbon plays’ in the basin, ONGC said in a statement.

The exploratory efforts conducted so far in the basin have not resulted in any discovery and hence no reserves have been established as yet, Sharma said.

The problem of non-availability of rigs, which was felt globally since the past few years, had caused a “setback” for the drilling operations in the country, he said.

Source

Infopark Kochi to be expanded over 160 acres

infopark in kochiThe second phase of softyware park Infopark in Kochi, which may be developed under a public-private partnership (PPP) model, will come up over 160 acres, said a top company official here Monday.

"We are getting into the second phase of Infopark's expansion. The land will be with us by the end of this year. We may look at building the infrastructure on a PPP model," said Infopark chief executive Siddhartha Bhattacharya.

He said it was still not decided whether the new park would be developed by Infopark or by the newly-promoted Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd.

Speaking about the existing Infopark, built over 102 acres, he said: "As of today we are full. In four and a half years, we got 9,000 people working in the IT park. We have already constructed 2.5 million square feet, and another two million square feet is under construction."

According to him, the two million square feet is being developed by Infopark and co-developers like Larsen and Toubro, Wipro and Tata Consultancy.

"Infopark on its own will develop half a million square feet," he said.

Maintaining that the downturn did not have any major impact on IT companies in Kerala, he added: "However, in order to assist small and medium-sized companies we have decided to defer 50 percent of the rent from units located in the park for a year."

Source

State to benefit from Vallarpadom: Kerala Tourism Minister

Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal - Large ImageKerala was poised to grow into a land of opportunities in the logistic sector with the commissioning of Vallarpadom International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICCT), Home and Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said here on Friday.

Inaugurating the two-day ‘Focus Kerala World Investors Meet-2009’ here, he said the ICCT would provide huge opportunities for investment in the state and urged the investors to fully utilise the meet to their benefit.

He said the change in attitude of the state was reflected by the fact that it was the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry which was organising such a meet and not the government. The smooth acquisition of land of over 1,500 acres for Kannur airport was another instance of the state resolution to grow into an investor-friendly destination, he added.

“There are large opportunities in the fields of mobile technology, nano technology and cybermedia, which are bound to create a revolution in the future and are also employment generators,” Kodiyeri said and cautioned that the neighbouring states were keeping their eye on all such prospective fields.

Stating that the state had done exemplarily well in the tourism sector at a time when other countries fared poorly, the Tourism Minister called upon the chamber to take efforts to revive the sick units and work towards removing industrial stagnation.

Inaugurating the conclaves in ten different sectors identified by the chamber, where investments could be made, Fisheries Minister S Sarma said the entrepreneurs in the state should start working from now to achieve a growth of 20 percent by 2015. “The state should develop all facilities to attain the target. Electricity is a key component behind the development of any sector and the completion of LNG terminal will enable the state to offer power at budget rate”, he said.

Dismissing allegations that the government was not serious in solving the issues related to the Smart City Kochi project, he agreed that there were obstacles on the way and the government was seriously studying the matter and trying to find a solution which would be transparent and acceptable to all.

Earlier, delivering the welcome address, K M Abdulla, Chairman, Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the meet was the result of the chamber’s two years of hard work to find the viable areas for investment in association with 999 panchayats in the state.

Source

India's longest railway bridge will be at Kochi

India's longest railway bridge in Kochi (Cochin, Kerala, India) The country's longest railway bridge, at 4.62 km, is fast nearing completion and will be opened in November, an official said here Saturday. The bridge, to connect the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam with Edapally near here, has been constructed in the Kochi backwaters.

G. Keshava Chandran, deputy general manager of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, said: 'The project cost for this mega bridge is estimated to be Rs.295 crore. The work began in May 2007 and is progressing on schedule.'

The bridge is a necessity for the proposed Rs.2,118 crore ICTT, billed as the country's first global hub terminal which is set to alter the development map of the state through huge investment in the coming years.

The ICTT project is set to launch a series of ventures including the Rs.1,600-crore LNG terminal, the port-based Special Economic Zone (Rs.1,510 crore), International Ship Repair complex (Rs.315 crore), SBM (single buoy moorings) for Kochi Refineries Ltd (Rs. 720 crore), Petro chemical complex for Gas Authority of India (Rs.7,000 crore), International bunkering terminal, bulk cargo terminals, cruise ship terminals and an international marina.

'Though there would be just one railway line at the moment, the foundation for two lines has been done. There would be no passenger traffic on this railway line, only container traffic to and from the IICT,' said Chandran


Source


Photo Credit : The Hindu
Chief minister V S Achuthanandan informed the assembly that the government had no information on the future of Smart city project. He replied to queries on Smart city as to whether TECOM had withdrawn from the project and what holds the future of the project. CM through documentation informed the assembly that 1,25,220 files are pending in the Secretariat and out of this 16,822 files are pending without any decision since the last two years, he said.

TECOM ready for comprehensive talks for Smartcity Kochi

TECOM, the promoters of the proposed Smart City project in Kochi has informed that they would like to have a comprehensive discussion with the state government in connection with the implementation of it.

The authorities have put forward some proposals for holding talks with the government. One of their main demands includes a comprehensive discussion on the 12 per cent freehold land. They also want to know about the registration of the land and not only that they want to know the full agenda of the talks.

Meantime, the government has informed that they are ready for the talks.

Source

Kochi Metro Rail Project close to being realised

kochi metro rail route mapA bouquet of achievements awaits Kerala with the longawaited Kochi Metro Rail Project close to being realised and Kozhikode set to be included in the expanded Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) project.

The Planning Commission, after long and hefty persuasion by the Ministry of Urban Development, has given the green signal to the Metro Rail Project on the lines proposed by the State - a joint venture of the State Government and the Centre.

Kozhikode will figure in the expanded JNNURM project wherein the Ministry has decided to include 28 cities with five lakh population.

The Metro Rail Project, which could change the face of Kochi, has been put on the fast track with its inclusion in the 100-day programme of the Ministry of Urban Development. This was announced by Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy while divulging his Ministry’s action plan in the coming 100 days.

Image copyright

News Source

The Kochi Metro


The Kochi Metro is a proposed mass transit system for the South Indian city of Kochi. It was one of the first proposed in India but was delayed for a variety of reasons. It is now planned to be commissioned by 2011. The alignment was created by the DMRC and is planned to be made on a Public-Private Partnership basis. The nodal agency for the project is KINFRA. Kochi Metro Rail Corporation has been created specially for this project.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has proposed a route spanning 25.253 from Thripunithura to Alwaye.There will be 26 Stations and are the following:

  1. Aluva
  2. Pulinchodu
  3. Company Pady
  4. Ambattkavu
  5. Muttom
  6. Appolo Typres
  7. Jacobite Church
  8. Kalamaserry
  9. Pathadi Palam
  10. Toll Junction
  11. Edapally Junction
  12. Edapally Station
  13. Palarivattom
  14. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
  15. Kaloor
  16. Lissie
  17. Madhav Pharmacy
  18. Maharaja's College
  19. Ernakulam South
  20. GCDA
  21. Fathima Church
  22. Elamkulam
  23. Vytila
  24. Thaikoodam
  25. Punithura
  26. Petta

KSEB demands land back, if SmartCity Kochi becomes a reality

The Kerala State Electricity Board has demanded the 104 acres of land earmarked for the Smarcity project which was taken from the KSEB back. The move comes in the wake of delay in implementing the Smartcity project.

Talking to media here, Electricity Minister AK Balan said, the move was necessary because the Tecom authorities were using pressure tactics.

The 100 acres of land previously owned by KSEB was included in the lease agreement signed between the State government and Tecom, and was given for Smartcity project after a long drawn battle.

Source

Kerala CM snubs minister on Smart City Kochi Project

The factional feud in the Kerala-unit of the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) surfaced once again Wednesday with Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan snubbing his industries minister here, saying his cabinet colleague had no role in the proposed Rs.1,500-crore ($316-million) Kochi Smart City IT park project.
“In this project, he has no role,” Achuthanandan snapped after reporters quizzed him on Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem’s recent statement that all contentious issues regarding the IT project would be resolved in a week.

The factional feud in the CPI-M is centred around Achuthanandan and the party’s state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, to whom Kareem owes allegiance.

The Smart City project seems to have collapsed after its overseas developers, Smart City Dubai, Sunday said it had withdrawn the contract with UK-based planner Collin Buchnan to develop the IT township project.

It said its decision was taken as the state government was not honouring the agreement the two had reached.

Achuthanandan, who also handles the IT portfolio, said he has asked Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan to initiate talks with the Dubai developer to sort out differences.

Smart City Dubai urged the state government June 1 to assure 12 percent of the land for the project be made freehold.

The company said despite its “best efforts to sort out issues by way of action”, it has “only heard statements” in the media about more discussions on the subject.

There has been no progress in the Smart City Kochi project since Achuthanandan laid the foundation stone Nov 16, 2007.

The project, proposed 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 already given a special economic status to 136 acres of the project area.

However, it has also not completed registration of the land nor settled the stamp duty issue.

Source
Tecom, the Dubai based promoters of the Smart CityIT Project in Kochi, yesterday announced they have closed their contract with the UK based Master Planning Consultants for the project.

SmartCity CEO Fareed Abdulrahman said once the Kerala Government resolves the 39 acres freehold land issue, and 'we mutually agree on the way forward, the Master Planners will recommence developing SmartCity Kochi'.

In a statement here he said, to protect the best interest of Smartcity Kochi and its stakeholders, and further to all activities that were put on hold until now, they have been forced to close the contract with the UK based consultants.

Reiterating their commitment to the project, Abdulrahman said they were sure that with the support of the Kerala government on pending issues, Smartcity will be a success.

Tecom wanted the Kerala government to take a decision by December this year on the 39 acres freehold land issue out of the 246 acres of land allotted to the project.

'The government has to assure us that whenever the masterplan is ready, we will get the freehold', CEO had said recently. The project is a joint venture project between the government and Tecom.

Kerala Fisheries Minister S Sarma, who is the Project Chairman, said the UK-based consultants were appointed after floating global tenders and as per the decision of the Board of Directors.

Sarma said he would discuss with Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and would seek a reply from Tecom on the reason for stopping the consultancy.

Source
Smart City Kochi should not be delayed any further: Infosys chief Kris GopalakrishnanInfosys Technologies chief executive Kris Gopalakrishnan Friday asked the Kerala government to take quick steps to solve the hurdles that stand in the way of the Rs.1,500-crore ($316 million) Smart City IT project, to come up in Kochi.


His statement comes days after Smart City Dubai, the developer of the project, gave an ultimatum to the state government to sort out the land dispute surrounding it before the end of the year.

"I am not aware of the project details, but this delay is not going to help the project. The government should soon finalise its decision," Gopalakrishnan said.

He was speaking to reporters after attending a meeting on infrastructure development in the state, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The Smart City project, whose foundation stone was laid Nov 16, 2007 by Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, has not seen any progress since then.

Smart City Dubai June 1 demanded the government give a "firm assurance" regarding the free-hold rights on 12 percent of the project land, which amounts to 39 acres.

The Dubai-based company's chief executive, Fareed Abdul Rehman, told reporters in Kochi that the firm would pull out of the project if the issue was not settled before Dec 31 this year.

Gopalakrishnan, however, expressed satisfaction with the government's decision to set up IT parks in all district headquarters.

"This would mean world class infrastructure is created and it would be good not only for the IT industry but also for nano-technology and bio-technology," he said.

According to the Infosys chief, new models of infrastructure development are the need of the hour.

"India is behind in use of technology and a lot of catching up has to be done. Both the state and centre should support infrastructure companies that provide all facilities," added Gopalakrishnan.

Source

Kochi Smart City: Press conference of Tecom

Amid the controversy over the Smart City project, its chief executive officer Farid Abdul Rahman said that the Smart City project will move if the govt tries to solve the freeland issue. The CEO arrived in Kochi here on Monday. It is not known if the team will have a detailed discussions with officials of the state department.

TECOM is particularly miffed with the State Government's reluctance to accept the provision of 12 per cent freehold land. The company wants a free hold right on the 12 percent of total land.

Abdul Rahman said that the focus is mainly on the freehold land issue and expects the Govt assurance on this. 'As long as the govt assures it, we are ready but we are not asking for it now,' he said. He also ruled out that the financial crisis has affected Tecom and termed it as baseless. Once the project is in place the company will create more jobs and bring business to the city to boost the economy, he said.

Tecom, the Dubai-based promoters of the project, which had suspended works over some difference of opinion, is trying to resolve the issue. This is for the first time that a top level team from Tecom was visiting Kerala after the fifth meeting of the board of directors held here in December last year. The sixth director board meeting scheduled for March was called off by Tecom.

The project had been suspended after difference of opinion regarding the 12 per cent freehold land cropped up between Tecom and the State government. The Smart City Kochi office remains closed too.

Source

TECOM team to arrive Kochi on Monday

The TECOM team lead by smart city CEO Farrid Abdul Rahman will reach Kochi on Monday . The visit is crucial due to the uncertainty surrounding the project. The arrival comes in the wake of fresh disagreements between government and Tecom authorities regarding the freehold rights. Tecom, of late, had demanded freehold rights on 12 percent of the project land, which works out to 39 acres. Kerala says the freehold facility clause will come into operation only after the finalisation of the SmartCity master plan.

It is not confirmed that whether the team will hold discussion with government officials or ministers. Earlier chief minister V S Achuthanandan had stated that economic slowdown affected the implementation of the project. Meanwhile it is estimated that the TECOM officials will take a final decision in this regard on Monday.

Source

Kerala Minister accuses Tecom of raising fresh demands

A few days after Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the global slowdown might delay the launch of Kochi’s Smart City project, state Fisheries Minister S. Sarma Monday said the project developer was now making fresh demands that were not part of the agreement.
Smart City Dubai has not even placed a brick at the site, Sarma, also the chairman of the Rs.1,500 crore ($316 million) project, said while speaking at a function here.

“We are bound by the agreement and we will honour it by all means. But instead of going ahead as planned, they (Smart City Dubai) are now coming up with fresh demands,” he said.

“Now they want to get free hold rights of 12 percent of total project land, which amounts to 39 acres. As per the agreement, this becomes due only after the master plan is ready. But the plan is yet to be ready,” the minister added.

Earlier May 20, Achuthanandan had said the developer might not have the required funds because of the financial crunch. He also accused the Dubai-based firm of making “undeserving demands”.

The proposed project, to be jointly launched by the state government and infrastructure major Smart City, 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 foundation stone of the project was laid Nov 16, 2007 by Achuthanandan and since then, barring a few board meetings, there has been no movement in the project.

Earlier Smart City Dubai chief executive Fareed Abdulrahman had said the company wanted the land holding issue settled first.

He added that the company had put on hold recruitment of additional human resources until the freehold issue was resolved.

However, Sarma said the demand was “outside the purview of the agreement”.

“See, we just can’t violate the agreement. If we do so, then it would lead to endless rounds of controversies,” he added.

Meanwhile, the state Youth Congress has called for a march towards the project site June 1, calling for the government’s speedy action to bring the project into reality.

Youth Congress leader P.S. Prasanth said the protest meet would be inaugurated by Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy.

“The state government instead of blaming others first have to do its job. We just can’t afford to lose this project,” said Prasanth.

Source

Opposition leader blames government for Smartcity Kochi delay

Kerala Opposition leader in the Kerala Assembly Oommen Chandy criticized the statement by chief minister V S Achuthanandan that global recession was the reason for the delay in implementing the Smartcity IT project by Dubai based TECOM promoters.

Achuthanandan was 'attempting to cover up the failures' of the government and main reason for the dealy was government's inability to take decisions on conditions stipulated on the project agreement entered with TECOM, Chandy told reporters here.

Chandy said there was no recession when the agreement was singed two-years back. Prolonged delay on the part of the government to resolve the issues have adversely affected the progress of the park at Kochi with an estimated investment of Rs 3500 crores, he said.

Achuthanandan had stated yesterday that promoters of the Smartcity were making 'certain undeserving demands' on the state government as the economic recession had affected them.

The growth of IT industry in Kerala was 45 per cent in 2008-09 against the national growth average of 17%, the chief minister said.

Meanwhile, the general body meeting of The Technopark and Infopark wash held here yesterday and approved annual budgets of Rs 650 crore and Rs 250 crore

Source
Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Wednesday said the global economic slowdown may delay the launch of Kochi’s Rs.15 billion Smart City project.
The proposed project, to be jointly launched by the state government and the Dubai-based infrastructure major Smart City, 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.

Achuthanandan said Smart City Dubai may not have the required funds because of the financial crunch, alleging that the infrastructure major was making “undeserving demands”.

He, however, did not elaborate on what the demands were.

“The talks with them will continue and we have a feeling that they are having problem of funds,” the chief minister said.

Source

Kerala firm on SmartCity pact: S.Sarma

S. Sarma rules out discussions on the basis of media reports.

KOCHI: Fisheries and Registration Minister S. Sarma has said that no further discussions will be held with Tecom, promoters of the SmartCity Kochi project, unless it raises its grievances before the State government officially.

“The State government cannot hold discussions merely on the basis of media reports,” Mr. Sarma said on the sidelines of function here on Friday. He was responding to queries of mediapersons regarding Tecom’s allegation that the State government’s reluctance to accept the provision of 12 per cent freehold land was holding up the project. He said that if Tecom raised the issue officially, the State government was prepared to hold discussions within the contours of the framework agreement.

The Minister reiterated that the State government firmly stood by the agreement it had entered into with Tecom. There was no difference of opinion or any hurdle in the project’s implementation, he said. Mr. Sarma also said that the provision for the 12 per cent freehold land was included in clause 5 (4) of the framework agreement.

Responding to reports that the Union government had turned down the State’s demand for including fishermen in the purview of the Agriculture Debt Waiver & Debt Relief Scheme, Mr. Sarma said that the State government had not yet received any intimation from the Centre declining or accepting the demand.

He said the latest reports said that the issue was now before the Union finance ministry. “Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had agreed to accept the State’s demand initially,” he said.

He termed as “unfortunate” the delay on the part of the Union government to accept the State’s demand, which it had agreed to initially. Mr. Sarma said that the State government had decided to approach the Central government again on the issue.

Asked whether the State government would consider bringing fishermen within the purview of the State agriculture debt relief scheme, the Fisheries Minister said that this was already under the consideration of the Kerala Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission.

Another Five Star Resort Hotel, Cochin - Dream Hotel

A new outpost for boutique hotel fans opened in Kerala, India over the weekend. The Dream Cochin Hotel - the latest Virkam Chatwal property - continues the brand’s East-meets-West ethos. Done up in a blue and white color palette, the hotel’s 151 rooms and suites juxtapose hippie chic touches like the patterned throws and rugs shown above with plasma televisions, DVD players, terry robes and iPods delivered upon request.

Three restaurants, a rooftop lounge and gym accompany a wellness spa offering holistic treatments that include Ayurvedic massage and organic aromatherapy.






http://www.dreamcok.com/
SA Road, Elamkulam Junction | Kadavanthara, Kochi 682020, India
The proposed Rs.15-billion Smart City Kochi IT park Tuesday suffered a setback after Smart City Dubai, which has signed a pact with the state government to develop the project, said it wanted the freehold land issue resolved.

This was informed in a press release, issued Tuesday by Smart City Dubai chief executive Fareed Abdulrahman, who said they were assigned to Smart City Kochi and still heavily involved in the development of the project and had not pulled back from their roles and responsibilities.

“However, the office fit-out of Josh Towers (also at Kochi) and the recruitment of additional people have been put on hold till the freehold land issue is resolved,” read the release.

Smart City Dubai wants the state to give 12 percent freehold rights on the property as was agreed at the time of the signing of the agreement, but says now the government has different opinion on that.

The project is slated to come up on a 246-acre plot, with an 8.8 million square feet of built-up space, of which 70 percent is earmarked for IT and IT-enabled Services.

The foundation stone of the project was laid Nov 16, 2007 by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and since then, barring seven board meetings, there has been no movement forward.

The Smart City Dubai is upset with the state government on account of the slow progress with regards to the stamp duty for the registration of the land, and also on the granting of special economic zone (SEZ) status for the entire project.

So far, for the project’s first phase, only 136 acres were granted SEZ clearance last year.

Source

The SmartCity

top