No productive insight in Kochi Smart City IT project impasse

Even as Smart City Dubai last week served an ultimatum to the Kerala government saying the proposed Rs.1,500-crore Smart City Kochi IT project cannot be kept hanging 'endlessly', a board meeting ended Wednesday with differences of opinion continuing between the two partners.

Emerging from the hour-long meeting, Smart City Kochi chairman and State Fisheries Minister S. Sarma told reporters that talks would continue.

'You know there are differences of opinion between us and Smart City Dubai. The chief minister is out of station, and once he returns, we will brief him about what happened today and a date for another round of discussion would be decided,' said Sarma.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had in November 2007 laid the foundation stone for the mega IT park at Kochi -- to be built by Smart City Dubai -- which will come up on a 246-acre plot and is expected to create 90,000 jobs.

But since then, nothing has moved with differences cropping up over granting of 12 percent freehold rights to Smart City Dubai.

While the Dubai partner wants a written agreement that this would be given after the master plan is ready, the government is not ready to give inalienable rights to them.

Fareed Abdulrahman of Smart City Dubai, who is also Smart City Kochi chief executive, said his company wished to make it clear that it did not want freehold land immediately, but only after the master plan was prepared.

'We will make it happen, we will make it happen,' Abdulrahman said.

With both parties hopeful of resolving the issues, it now remains to be seen when the next meeting takes place.



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