Kerala firm on SmartCity pact: S.Sarma

S. Sarma rules out discussions on the basis of media reports.

KOCHI: Fisheries and Registration Minister S. Sarma has said that no further discussions will be held with Tecom, promoters of the SmartCity Kochi project, unless it raises its grievances before the State government officially.

“The State government cannot hold discussions merely on the basis of media reports,” Mr. Sarma said on the sidelines of function here on Friday. He was responding to queries of mediapersons regarding Tecom’s allegation that the State government’s reluctance to accept the provision of 12 per cent freehold land was holding up the project. He said that if Tecom raised the issue officially, the State government was prepared to hold discussions within the contours of the framework agreement.

The Minister reiterated that the State government firmly stood by the agreement it had entered into with Tecom. There was no difference of opinion or any hurdle in the project’s implementation, he said. Mr. Sarma also said that the provision for the 12 per cent freehold land was included in clause 5 (4) of the framework agreement.

Responding to reports that the Union government had turned down the State’s demand for including fishermen in the purview of the Agriculture Debt Waiver & Debt Relief Scheme, Mr. Sarma said that the State government had not yet received any intimation from the Centre declining or accepting the demand.

He said the latest reports said that the issue was now before the Union finance ministry. “Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had agreed to accept the State’s demand initially,” he said.

He termed as “unfortunate” the delay on the part of the Union government to accept the State’s demand, which it had agreed to initially. Mr. Sarma said that the State government had decided to approach the Central government again on the issue.

Asked whether the State government would consider bringing fishermen within the purview of the State agriculture debt relief scheme, the Fisheries Minister said that this was already under the consideration of the Kerala Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission.

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