Arbitration will be our last resort: Smart City Dubai

The deadlock between the Kerala government and Smart City Dubai continued over the fate of the proposed Rs.1,500 crore Smart City Kochi project, with the latter making it clear that arbitration would be their last resort.

As expected, the 23rd board meeting of Smart City Kochi held here Friday, ended in 20 minutes only with no decision taken on the contentious issue of giving 12 percent free hold rights to Smart City Dubai - the builders of the project.

In the post-meeting press conference, the two parties continued to stick to their respective stands.

"What matters to us is to maintain good relations and hence we expect that a solution will come out. The question of going legal or to an arbitrator is our last resort," said Smart City Dubai and Smart City Kochi CEO Fareed Abdulrahman.

He also clarified that UAE-based businessman M.A. Yousuf Ali, who held talks with them, is not a mediator but only a government representative.

However, Smart City Kochi chairman and State Fisheries Minister S. Sarma said: "The talks between Ali and Smart City Dubai is progressing well. But the government, under no cost, will deviate from the policy decision that no land in the project can be sold. We expect that in two weeks time, we will get a reply from them."

It was more than three years back that the foundation stone for the project was laid and since then no progress has been made over the issue of granting 12 percent free hold rights to the builders outside of the 246 acres of the proposed project site.
The Dubai based builders Tecom has made made it clear that it would wait for only another two months for the state government's nod to go ahead wth the Kochi Smart City project.

Fareed Abdul Rahman CEO of Smart City project said that it involves crores of rupees and if no progress is made in this regard within two months legal steps would be pursued. He was talking to reporters here Friday before the board of directors' meeting.

Abdul Rahman said that M A Yusuf Ali is not a mediator for the issues related to Smart City project. He is a representative of the government. The government used the word 'representative', he insisted.

He said that he is ready to hold talks with Yusuf Ali in his capacity as a representative. A mediator should be a person who is acceptable to both the parties and he should be selected through a joint discussion held between the two parties. Nothing of that sort has happened, he said.
Smartcity Kochi Directors meeting December 2010The Smart City Board of Directors meeting will take place tomorrow at Kochi. Smart City CEO Fareed Abdul Rahman and the newly appointed IT Secretary K Suresh Kumar will take part in the meeting.

This was the first meeting after Yousaf Ali had been appointed as the mediator by the State Government to hold talks with TECOM on the Smart City project.

K Suresh Kumar IAS is the new Secretary of Kerala Department of IT

K Suresh Kumar, a 1989 batch Kerala Cadre IAS Officer has been appointed as the new Secretary of the Department of Information Technology, Government of Kerala. He replaces Dr. Ajay Kumar IAS, Principal Secretary (IT) who is joining the Department of IT at the Centre as Joint Secretary.

Suresh Kumar, more popularly known as Chief Minister Shri V S Achuthanandan’s ‘Man Friday’, has been brought in to untangle the mess of the proposed SmartCity Kochi project. Incidentally, the CM also holds the IT portfolio.

Suresh is known for courting controversies in most his previous postings in the State.

His role as the Team Leader of the Munnar demolition mission had earned the wrath of the CPM State Secretariat. His appointment by the CM is sure to ruffle the feathers of the CPM State leadership.

Suresh was the Secretary, Official Languages prior to this posting. He has also been the MD of the State Cooperative Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development; Director of Fisheries and also District Collector, Wayanad.


Kerala CM still optimistic on Kochi Smart city project

Kerala CM - Smartcity KochiState Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan has today expressed optimism on the successful implementation of the much awaited Smart city project in Kochi. Speaking to the media persons in Thiruvananthapuram today, VS opined that the smart city project would be implemented without providing any free hold land right.

While State Fisheries Minister and Smart City Chairman S Sarma had earlier informed that the talks held between MA Yousaf Ali and Tecom authorities, in connection with the Smart City project will be briefed to Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan.

The next Cabinet meeting would discuss the chances of the project after the discussion with CM, Sarma said. Ali held two rounds of talks with the authorities of TECOM.
Earlier, Tecom CEO Fareed Abdul Rahman stated that they were interested to implement the project as per the existing agreement and said they have informed their stand to Ali.

Kochi Gold and Diamond Park

Kochi Gold and Diamond Park, KalamasseryDelhi-based Aerens Gold Souk International today said it is setting up a 33-acre Gold and Diamond Park at a cost of Rs 450 crore at nearby Kalamassery. The park is conceived as a landmark for jewellery manufacturers, retailers, artisans, exporters and wholesalers to interact, network, source and promote business prospects, a company release said Thursday.

Aerens Gold Souk International Vice-Chairman and Joint Managing Director Ashish Gupta said the manufacturing facility at the park will be ready by September 2011 and it may take three more years to complete the project.

The new venture will help facilitate standardisation in the industry, creation of products that are acceptable in international markets, provide steady employment opportunities and make available latest technologies with a view to preserving Kerala's traditional jewellery industry.

"Encouraged by the success of the Gold Souk Grande mall in Kochi, we plan to set up two more malls at Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode with an investment of Rs 150 crore each. The company has spent Rs 100 crore for the Kochi project," he said. Aerens Gold Souk Group is a four decade old diversified conglomerate that has interests in real estate, retail, entertainment and hospitality sectors.

Vyttila Mobility HubVyttila Mobility Hub is an integrated transit terminal in the city of Kochi.. It is designed as a converging point of various forms of public transportation, such as local and long distance buses, metro rail and water transport. The first phase, consisting of the terminal for long distance buses and the basic amenities, started construction in December, 2010. When fully implemented, it will have facility to integrate all modes of public transportation, as well as for shopping, entertainment and hospitality.

The tenders for the construction of first phase has been granted to Nagarjuna constructions from among seven companies which submitted tenders. The selection was on account of quoting the lowest amount for the execution of the project and the first phase of the project be completed by February 2011. After completion it will be largest bus terminus in the Kerala state and third largest in South India.

Work on Vytilla mobility hub inaugurated
Map of Vyttila Mobility HubState Fisheries Minister S. Sarma inaugurated the construction work of Vytila Mobility Hub in Kochi today. The project aims at solving a good share of commuting problems in the city by creating amenities in and around the Vytilla Junction, by integrating different modes of transport like roadways, metro rail, railways and waterways.

From Vytilla, public transport systems can provide connectivity with the western and eastern parts of the city, West Kochi, and also regional hubs like Vypeen, Palarivattom, Kakkanad, Thripunithura and Aroor. Vytilla is also well- connected with National Highways 47, 17 and 49, the seaport and the airport.

The proposed metro rail passes through the junction and National Waterway III is located close by. By basing operations in Vytilla, the KSRTC and private buses would be able to save huge amounts on fuel, apart from the time saved in not entering the city. Thus, the Vytilla mobility hub has evolved as a natural remedy and is envisioned as a long-term solution to Kochi’s transporting problems.
State Fisheries Minister and Smart City Chairman S Sarma today said that the talks held between MA Yousaf Ali and Tecom authorities, in connection with the Smart City project will be briefed to Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan.

The Cabinet will discuss the chances of the project after the discussion with CM, Sarma said. Ali held two rounds of talks with the authorities of TECOM.
Earlier, Tecom CEO Fareed Abdul Rahman stated that they were interested to implement the project as per the existing agreement and said they have informed their stand to Ali.

Meantime, Yousaf Ali said that he will hold talks with the Chief Minister on Saturday.

Kerala keen to take Kochi Smart City project forward

Kerala govt for citizen-oriented IT policy.

The Kerala government is making earnest efforts to realise the SmartCity project in Kochi, promoted as a joint venture with the Dubai-based Tecom, said Fisheries Minister S Sarma here today.

Talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of India ICT Summit-2010, Sarma, who is also the chairman of SmartCity, said the government welcomed mediatory role played by MA Yousuf Ali, director of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to resolve the differences of opinion between Tecom and state government.
He however declined to comment on the details or conditions of talks between Yousuf Ali and Tecom representatives.

Inaugurating the conference, Sarma said the state was now ideally placed for rapid development of the IT sector. The IT industry in Kerala has registered significant growth in exports during the last few years. The exports grew to Rs 2,412 crore in 2009-10 from Rs 141 crore in 2001-02.

He also stressed the need for a common man-friendly IT policy in the state. “The state needs an IT policy which should bring the welfare services of the government to the common people. The IT sector needs to have an orientation towards the common people.”

Delivering the keynote address, Ajay Kumar, principal secretary (IT), said Kerala’s contribution to the national IT export basket has increased from one percent to two percent now. Small and medium IT industries have a major role to address the rural and domestic markets. According to him, availability of land is the major advantage for Kerala, regarding the development of IT parks.

S Mahalingam, executive director and CFO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), stressed the need to assess the preparedness of the industry for the changing technological trends. He said TCS has plans to recruit 35,000 people from campuses next year. “We have a detailed plan for expansion and we will be hiring more people as part of the expansion programme,” he added.

IT services major Infosys Technologies managing director and CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan said the state is emerging as an attractive and investor friendly location. Kerala need to focus on theme-based IT parks. “If we can focus on a particular theme for each of the upcoming IT parks, it can attract more entrepreneurs of that particular industry. It is more of creating clusters or embedded systems of industries”, he added.

Gopalakrishnan also suggested that Kerala create a unique brand about the quality of life offered for the employees in the IT sector. “With its natural beauty and unique concepts like Ayurveda, the state can easily create a unique brand, which can attract high spending IT employees”.

Kerala Government received a reply from TECOM

The government today received a reply from TECOM, the promoters of the SmartCity project. Tecom’s letter stated that they are keen in implementing the proposed project. Tecom has stated this in a press release handed over to the media.

TECOM has invited government delegates along with Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan for further talks if they are interested in the project. They invited the chief minister for holding talks in Dubai. Tecom further added that they were keen to solve the difference in opinion for the much awaited Smart city project in Kochi.

TECOM, the promoters of the project, has been asking for 12% freehold land right whereby they will even be able to sell the land. TECOM had announced that jobs would be offered to 90,000 persons, when the project is ready. But, so far not even a single person has obtained any job. They are delaying the project by raising unnecessary things.

As of now, Smart City project is clouded by uncertainties. If it fails, then it could bring about a big loss, both in money-wise and employment-wise and the sole responsibility will be the politics in Kerala.

The SmartCity