Smart City not to come under new SEZ guidelines

October 2nd, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi (Kerala) Oct 2 (IANS) The Rs.15 billion ($350 million) Smart City project, being worked jointly by the Kerala government and Dubai Internet City (DIC), aiming to put Kerala on the global IT map, will not come under the new special economic zone (SEZ) policies, said chairman of the project and state Fisheries Minister S.Sarma.The project would have 8.8 million square feet of built-up space, of which 70 percent would be for information technology and information technology enabled services and would employ 90,000 professionals.

Speaking to reporters here Wednesday, Sarma said the new SEZ guidelines will not be applicable for Smart City. Instead, the rules and guidelines laid down in the agreement between DIC and the state government will be followed.

“The different phases of the project would also be governed by the agreement,” said Sarma.

The minister’s statement comes at a time when early this week Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan cleared 10 SEZ applications subject to 13 conditions put forward by the state government.

The conditions include: no agricultural land will be acquired for SEZ; land will not be acquired for sanctioning SEZ in the private sector; no rebates will be allowed for electricity; Panchayati Raj rules will be applicable; tax holidays will be there only for 10 years; 70 percent of the land will have to be used for industrial purpose and the balance 30 percent for residential apartments; and no apartments can be sold to outside parties.

All labour laws prevailing in the state will also be applicable to these SEZs.

The project is spread over an area of 246 acres, of which 136 acres of land in the first phase of the project was granted SEZ clearance last year.

“The remaining will also be granted SEZ status at the opportune time,” said Sarma.

While much time has elapsed since the agreement to this project was inked in May last year and the foundation stone laid in November last year, the state government appears to be upset with Smart City officials for the delay in beginning construction work.

A overnment official said this issue would be taken up in the forthcoming board meeting of Smart City, slated to take place later this month.

Media reports indicate that the DIC officials are busy with another Smart City project at Malta and that has upset the state government here.

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