Smart City work to begin only after SEZ status

October 13th, 2008 - 11:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi, Oct 13 (IANS) Work on the Rs.15 billion Smart City project here will start only after it gets special economic zone (SEZ) status, its board decided at a meeting here Monday.The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Smart City Dubai in March 2007 and the foundation stone was also laid last year, but the actual work is yet to start.

Addressing reporters after the fourth board meeting, Smart City Kochi chairman and state Fisheries Minister S. Sarma said the board was waiting for the notification from the central government.

“It has been decided that work will commence only after the notification comes. Since there is a court case going on by an evictee, the registration of the land will take time,” Sarma said.

Of the total 246 acres, SEZ status has been given in principle by the central government only for 136 acres.

Denying allegations that Smart City Dubai was pulling out, project chief executive Farid Abdul Rehman said the company was happy the way things were progressing.

Last week, opposition leader Oommen Chandy said the previous United Democratic Front government had given concessions to the tune of Rs.460 million to the Dubai company, while the LDF government gave concessions worth over Rs.10 billion when it renegotiated the agreement.

Chandy also demanded a probe into the allegations.

According to the agreement, the project work was to have commenced Oct 2. Now, with the board deciding that it would wait for SEZ status, it is now clear that there would be a further delay.

Asked about the the SEZ guidelines brought out by the government, Sarma said these guidelines would not be applicable to the Smart City project.

“The project would be guided by the agreement,” he added.

The Smart City project would have 8.8 million square feet of built-up space, of which 70 percent would be for IT and IT-enabled services, and would employ 90,000 professionals.

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