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Smart City Kochi construction work to start next month [November]

Dubai’s Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (TECOM) will start construction work next month on a $385mn IT park in Kerala, officials said yesterday.

The foundation stone would be laid in the first week of November for the Rs15bn Smart City project near Kochi, said Joseph Mathew, information technology consultant to the state government.

“Smart City will become a reality soon. The government will hand over 246 acres of land to TECOM, promoters of the project,” Mathew said.
Kerala signed a memorandum of understanding with TECOM to develop the Smart City last May.

The project aims to create 90,000 new jobs within 10 years in a state where 4mn under 35 are unemployed among a population of 31.8mn.

Senior district administrator Hanish Mohamed said the government would grant the land on a 99-year lease and provide water, power and a four-lane highway to Smart City, a joint venture which will run the project.

The Kerala government will have a 26% stake and three seats, including the chair, on a 10-member board.

TECOM public relations manager Baiju Francis said the new zone would be located at Kakkanad.
Some 70% of the space would be devoted to IT and IT-related activities and the remainder given over to commercial use, including retail, a residential complex, hotels and recreational facilities.

Smart City is a joint venture between TECOM Investments and SAMA Dubai, part of the Dubai Holding group, set up in March 2007 to develop and manage knowledge industry townships worldwide.

Smart City also sealed an agreement with the government of Malta to establish Smart City Malta last April. “Kochi Smart City is our second such venture,” Francis said.


Kerala IT sector to get big boost

Information technology infrastructure in Kerala will witness tremendous growth in the next three years, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said here yesterday.

“Several projects, both the government and private initiatives, are coming up throughout the state,” he said while inaugurating the new 450,000-sq ft campus of the IBS Software Services, a leading global provider of new-generation IT solutions to the travel, transportation and logistics industry, at Technopark here.

Dubai’s Tecom Investments is developing a 350-acre Smart City while Sobha Developers has started work on the 400-acre Hi-Tec city in Kochi. These two projects alone are expected to create 150,000 jobs.

Besides, the state government has announced a 500-acre Techno City to be built in Thiruvananthapuram and a contract had been awarded to a Malaysian consortium to develop a similar facility in Kozhikode.

The Cochin International Airport is developing an IT Park within its complex while major players like HDIL have announced a number of projects to build IT infrastructure in the state.
“The investment profile of the state has changed drastically and we receive a lot of inquiries these days for setting up new projects. Unlike Bangalore or Hyderabad, these are not concentrated in a single city,” Achuthanandan who also holds the IT portfolio said.

The IBS facility Achuthanandan inaugurated in the presence of former chief minister Oommen Chandy who took major initiatives to attract investors in the sector, is the first of the four blocks on the company’s campus spread over 5.26 acres within Technopark.

“We are planning similar campuses in all the 14 districts of the state and it won’t be limited to certain pockets. We are looking at a decentralised development of the IT industry in the state,” the chief minister said.

With a built-up area of 450,000 sq ft, the campus will accommodate over 4,000 professionals.
“Besides government support, the excellent infrastructure available at the Technopark here and Infopark in Kochi has encouraged us to maintain Kerala as the hub for our India operations,” V K Mathews, chairman of IBS, said. “The state is emerging as a key IT destination and IBS’ growth over the last decade is testimony to our belief in Kerala.”

IT majors Wipro, Infosys and TCS are also building similar campuses in the state.
The IBS India operates out of 200,000sq ft of office space in three buildings in the Technopark and two buildings in Infopark.

“This campus here marks a beginning for the next level of our aggressive growth plans, as we aim to grow into a Rs10bn company by 2010. We also have plans to set up other campuses within Kerala, in Kochi and Kozhikode, and to open development centres outside the state,” Mathews said.

Meanwhile, UST Global, a California-based IT firm that has its Indian headquarters at Technopark here, yesterday announced expansion plans involving an investment of $130mn (Rs5bn).

Sajan Pillai, president and chief operating officer of the company, said the development strategy would be rolled out in three phases.

“We are building our own campus at the 36 acres that Kerala government has given us inside Technopark. After it is completed, we would have 1.3mn sq ft of campus that would employ 10,000 professionals,” Pillai said.

UST Global began its operations in 1999. Today it is the biggest software employer in Kerala with a total business of $250mn last fiscal.

Currently it employs 5,500 professionals, of which close to 3,500 work at Technopark.

Smart City Kochi: stone to be laid this month

The foundation stone for the Smart City Kochi project will be laid this month, District Collector A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish said.

He told presspersons at the Collectorate that a search was on for a venue for the function.

He said the State government was in a position to hand over the entire 246 acres (one acre = 0.4 hectare) of land needed for the project to Tecom, its promoters, the moment the lease agreement was signed. Tecom had been informed about this.

He said the doubt if the entire land could be handed over owing to agitations had been proved wrong.

Evictees from 13 acres of land at Edachira had agreed to accept the rehabilitation package, and alternative land would be provided to them through a draw of lots, he said.

Another 10 acres, entangled in legal issues, was acquired last week after the State government, on the instructions of the court, considered the complaints raised by the inhabitants and dismissed them as baseless, he said.

Of the total land, 136 acres belonged to private parties, 100 acres to the Kerala State Electricity Board at Brahmapuram and 10 acres to Kinfra.

The State government was expected to provide a four-lane highway between the Brahmapuram land and the rest.

He said the 16 acres identified for the second phase of Infopark would have to be acquired for laying the road. The draft notification of this land had been issued.

Under the rehabilitation package for Smart City evictees, six cents of land will be given free of cost to all families giving up their land for the project, while another five cents will be given to those who part with 15 cents or more.

Steps were also taken to divide the land identified for rehabilitation into plots for distribution.

Source:The Hindu

IT, ITES majors invited to invest in Kerala

Rs. 6,000 crore invested in two techno parks

Computer training being provided to 38,000 students

Bangalore: Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achutanandan on Sunday invited information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services majors to invest in his State, which had created a world-class infrastructure, an industry-friendly climate and free from labour unrest.

Addressing presspersons before launching the first-ever road show here and meeting with the representatives of the IT majors, Mr. Achutanandan said that the IT captains such as Infosys Chief Mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy, who had visited the Technopark and Infopark in his State, were impressed by the infrastructure and clean-green atmosphere there.

Mr. Achutanandan, who visited the Infosys Technologies campus at Electronics City, said that the corporate houses were happy with the progressive policies and low operational costs and were eager to shift their expansion programmes to Kerala.

He said that investments to the tune of about Rs. 6,000 crore had been made in these two parks and another Rs. 6,000 crore in Technocity and other areas was in the offing. An apex company had been created and project-specific special purpose vehicles would handle the new IT projects. There will be a uniform spread of IT development in all the districts, he said.

A 507-acre IT township — Technocity — would come up in Thiruvananthapuram and work on the smart city project at Kochi would commence by the end of October. Apart from this, IT parks were coming up in all the districts. He said that the State had the best IT/ITES trained manpower, 75 per cent savings on start-up and operational costs and a strong data backbone.

Kerala IT Secretary K.R. Jyothilal said his State had learnt lessons from Karnataka’s problems in handling the IT industry and that the IT majors would not find any problems in investing there. He said that the State had entered into collaboration with Infosys for starting Finishing Schools for the weaker sections. Shashi Tharoor, former Under Secretary of the United Nations, was also helping the state in establishing more finishing schools, he said.

Mr. Jyothilal said that it was the policy of the Government to introduce computer training and 38,000 students in 2,800 high schools had been getting training. Next year, the number would rise to two lakh.

IT road show in Bangalore by Kerala CM V.S. Achuthanandan

Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, taking cue from his West Bengal counterpart, will lead a road show in Bangalore to promote Kerala as an IT destination.

He will be accompanied by top executives from the IT sector and they are expected to showcase their success stories before 50 Chief Executive Officers (CEO) from the IT industry.

Speaking to IANS from Bangalore, Kerala IT secretary K R Jyothilal said, "The Chief Minister himself is leading the show and this is the first in the series of shows that we are planning to hold in different parts of the country and abroad."

Achuthanandan will visit the Infosys campus on an invitation from Infosys mentor N R Narayana Murthy.

"Those attending the CEO meeting include top executives from the country's leading IT companies. These successful IT companies, who are already are doing well in Kerala, would be sharing their experiences with the CEOs," said the IT secretary.

The chief minister also handles the IT portfolio and his stock has improved ever since he signed an understanding with the Dubai Internet City (DIC) for the proposed Rs.15 billion Smart City project to come up in Kochi.

Achuthanandan, while in the opposition (2001-06), had opposed giving a blank cheque to the DIC officials but after coming to power he made the DIC agree to virtually all his terms and conditions.

IT exports from Kerala has grown from Rs.4.5 billion in the year 2005-06 to Rs 10 billion in the last fiscal year.


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