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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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The SmartCity

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