Deadlock of SmartCity Kochi may end soon

The proposed visit of Chief Executive Officer of the Dubai-based SmartCity Fareed Abdulrahman to Kerala on September 9 has revived hopes of ending the stalemate that brought the planned SmartCity Kochi project to a halt.

Mr. Abdulrahman will hold discussions with Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan in Thiruvananthapuram on what SmartCity calls “pending issues.” The State Cabinet had urged Ms. Gangadharan to ensure that progress was made in the implementation of the project.

Mr. Abdulrahman is expected to emphasise on incorporating in the fresh lease various provisions in the Framework Agreement that SmartCity signed with the government in May 2007. This included adding “unacquired patta land” of 19 cents (0.08 hectare) located in the centre of a piece of land measuring 114 acres (46 hectares) and, more importantly, incorporating a clause pertaining to 12 per cent freehold land.

He will also bring up the issue of perceived confusion regarding the 100 acres of KSEB land handed over for the project and acquiring Special Economic Zone status for it.

SmartCity had made it clear that any progress on the project depended on the outcome of the discussions with the Chief Secretary. It had also ruled out holding a meeting of the board of directors unless a decision was reached on the pending issues.

The last six months saw a worsening of relations between SmartCity and the State government. After the fifth meeting of the board of directors on December 22 last year and Mr. Abdulrahman’s meeting with the Chief Minister on February 19, hardly any official communication took place between the stakeholders.

Things appeared to be getting back on track when Mr. Abdulrahman issued a press release on February 23 hailing the statement of Fisheries Minister S. Sarma, who is also chairman of SmartCity Kochi, that the government was ready to sign a fresh lease agreement. But thereafter things petered out.

Mr. Abdulrahman was in the city on June 1. Though he addressed the media, he did not meet any government representative. The government then entrusted the Chief Secretary with suggesting ways to move forward.



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