Decks cleared for Kochi infotech project

February 2nd, 2011 - 5:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 2 (IANS) The deadlock between the Kerala government and Smart City Dubai over the proposed Rs.1,500 crore Smart City Kochi project finally ended Wednesday following talks between Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan and United Arab Emirates (UAE) government representative Ahmed Humaiud Al Tayer.Addressing reporters after an hour-long meeting with the Dubai government team here, the chief minister said all the issues have been sorted out.

“The project is going to be a reality and the details would be announced soon after the cabinet meeting to be held later today,” said Achuthanandan.

A nine-point agreement to this effect was also signed by the two parties.

It was more than three years back that the foundation stone for the project was laid and since then, work has been held up over the issue of granting 12 percent freehold rights to the builders outside of the 246 acres of the proposed project site.

Sources close to the government say the issue was settled after the government agreed to give 12 percent freehold rights, but within the 246 acres which would come under the special economic zone and cannot be sold.

The talks had broken down last year and Achuthanandan had more than once blamed the UAE-based company Smart City Dubai, saying it was intentionally delaying the infotech project as it was broke. He had also called Smart City Kochi’s chief executive officer Fareed Abdulrahman a drunkard.

But the turnaround came after the state government appointed UAE-based Kerala origin businessman M.A.Yousuf Ali to negotiate with the UAE government.

“I had eight rounds of talks with the UAE officials and quite a few informal talks with them. Finally, it has become a reality and am so happy for the thousands of Kerala youths who will get jobs once the Smart City Kochi becomes a reality,” said Ali, who attended the meeting.

Speaking to reporters, local legislator K.Babu of the Congress said that even though he was happy that the differences have been resolved, some questions still remained unanswered.

“But the larger question is why this nearly four year long delay and who is to be blamed for this? Had the state government been more sincere in its efforts and had it gone ahead in the same speed after the foundation stone was laid, then by now, people would have been working there,” said Babu.

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