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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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