The Rs.15-billion ($375-million) IT park, Smart City Kochi, will request the state government to see that it gets special economic zone (SEZ) status without any strings. Speaking to reporters after the fifth director board meeting Monday evening, state Registration and Fisheries Minister S. Sarma, who is also the chairman of the Smart City Kochi, said the board has decided to request the state government to see that the project was guided by the agreement reached between the Dubai-based Smart City and the Kerala government.

Earlier, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Law Minister M. Vijayakumar had made contradicting statements about the status of the project. While the chief minister said the entire project would be guided by the agreement between the Dubai-based firm and the government, Vijayakumar last month said the state SEZ policy would be applicable to the project.

The state SEZ policy has set some conditions for SEZ projects, which include: no agricultural land will be acquired for SEZs; land will not be acquired for sanctioning SEZs in the private sector; no rebates will be allowed for electricity; Panchayati Raj rules will be applicable; tax holidays will be only for 10 years; 70 percent of the land will have to be used for industrial purposes 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 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.

The project is now at the crossroads with nothing happening after the foundation stone was laid a year back.

The Dubai team is upset because for the project’s first phase, only 136 acres were granted SEZ clearance last year and the remaining 100 acres are yet to get the clearance.

Sarma said: “The registration process of 136 acres would be completed soon.”


The SmartCity