Monday, August 28, 2006

Kerala puts forward new proposals for Smart City

The Kerala government has finally set out its conditions for the proposed Smart City IT project in Kochi to Dubai Internet City (DIC), its promoters.

An official in Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan's office told IANS that the state government had informed DIC about the conditions.

Unwilling to reveal many details, the official said that around 210 acres of land would be given to DIC on lease. The total value of the land they would have to pay for would be around Rs.800 million ($17.2 million).

"The existing Infopark at Kochi, which was part of the deal signed by the Oommen Chandy government, is not going to be given to them," said the official.

According to reports, the government has stipulated that the Rs.15 billion-project should provide 90,000 jobs in 10 years time.

Achuthanandan, who also holds the IT portfolio, held discussions with DIC officials here on Aug 5 - his first talks with DIC after taking over as chief minister on May 18.

In early 2004, the then A.K. Antony government had begun the first discussions on the project. The MoU was signed by his successor Oommen Chandy on Sep 9 last year at Kochi.

Achuthanandan, the then Leader of Opposition, had claimed the deal was not favourable to the state and that many in the forefront of the discussions had pocketed money.

The new proposals put forward by Achuthanandan will be far less attractive to DIC as the Chandy government had agreed to hand over the 100-acre Infopark at a cost of Rs.1.09 billion ($22.83 million), 136 acres of land at Rs.2.64 million ($602,189) per acre and another 100 acres of land on a 99-year lease free of cost. DIC had agreed to create 33,000 new jobs in lieu of the 100 acres of land.

Speaking to IANS, Chandy said he was pleased that Achuthanandan had agreed to discuss the project with DIC officials. "The biggest objection he had was that DIC is a real estate company. The only thing I would say now is that Kerala needs the project."


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