E Sreedharan to head Kochi Metro

Finally, the announcement has come. India's metro man E Sreedharan has been chosen to head the Kochi Metro rail project. Electricity minister Aryadan Mohammed said on Tuesday that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief would be given charge of the project and he would oversee the construction works.

The minister made the announcement after holding talks with Sreedharan in New Delhi. A team of ministers, including chief minister Oommen Chandy and senior officials held discussions with the DMRC chief.

Sreedharan had earlier expressed his willingness to render any service to the state. He is currently the managing director of DMRC. His tenure with Delhi Metro will end by December 31, 2011.

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Central nod to Chennai-model Kochi Metro rail

Chennai-model Kochi Metro railThe Ministry of Urban Development has reportedly given approval to model the Kochi Metro rail on the lines of Chennai Metro rail.

A draft in this regard has been prepared by the Cabinet.

There will be no private participation in the project. The amount which was earmarked for the project will be increased to Rs. 5,016 crore from Rs. 1,886 crore, as 51 percentage of the amount will be taken by way of loan.

The project will be submitted before the Cabinet only after receiving a nod from the Finance Ministry.

Kochi SmartCity commences; phase-1 to be completed in 2 yrs

KOCHI: Construction of the much delayed Rs 2,000 crore SmartCity project at the nearby Kakkanad commenced today and the first phase is expected to be completed in two years.

Within 24 months the project's first phase would be ready and is expected to provide about 7,000 jobs, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said after performing the "ground breaking ceremony" of the 6,000 sq ft pavillion building, which will be completed within 14 weeks.

Govt grants SEZ status to entire Kochi Smart City area

The Union commerce ministry today granted the status of a special economic zone (SEZ) to 114-acre site of the proposed Smart City project in Kochi. With this, the SEZ status has now been accorded to the total area of 246 acres of the proejct.

Earlier, in March this year, the government had sactioned SEZ status only to 132 acres as the total project area is divided into two by a river in the middle.

The latest move is expected to lead to a smooth sailing of the Rs 2,000-crore mega IT infrastructure project. Samrt City Kochi managing director Baju George said that the decision was very positive for the progress of the proejct.

A smart route map for Kochi Metro Rail

The dream IT project of Kochi, the Smart City, may soon get metro rail connectivity. The state government has decided to extend the alignment of Kochi Metro Rail to the proposed Smart City site.

The authorities will soon start the study for foxing the alignment for the new route. “We have decided to extend the alignment. It will be fixed without much delay,” said Minister Aryadan Mohammed who is in charge of the Railways in the state.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said there was no need for any anxiety with regard to land acquisition for the much delayed Kochi Metro Rail project, which is now estimated to cost about Rs 5000 crore. The land acquisition process has to be completed within six months. The government would be formulating a new land acquisition policy keeping in mind the hardships of those who were forced to surrender their land at Moolampally, he said.

Those giving land for development projects would be entitled to various concessions and would also get market value for their land, Chandy said addressing a high level meeting of ministers, MLAs and businessmen on the Kochi Metro Rail project. The Kochi metro would be a transparent project and all information would be available on the website. Within a month, an office of the project would be opened here, he said. The government had set apart Rs 25 crore for widening of the Thammanam-Pullepady road, which would be used to divert traffic once the North overbridge, the busiest in Kochi, is widened.

SmartCity Kochi project set to finally take off by October

The much awaited SmartCity Kochi project got a fresh set of deadlines and impetus today after a meeting of the delegates from Tecom, the promoters of the SmartCity Kochi project, with the Kerala Government in Trivandrum. Tecom would reopen its Kochi office before August 31, 2011 and present the concept master plan by September. The work on the first phase 3.5 lakh sq.ft. building would start by October 31 and this would be rolled out by October 31, 2012.

Briefing the media, Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy said, “This is the realisation of a long cherished dream. The SmartCity Kochi project has been finalised and new deadlines have been set. The project would be carried out within the framework of the existing agreement worked out by previous Government. As any change in the agreement at this stage would further delay the project, we opted against it. However a major change is that now the Central Government SEZ norms will be applicable to this project.”

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The first phase of the proposed mega IT project, Smart City Kochi, would be commissioned before Oct 31, 2012, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Thursday.
The Oommen Chandy-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government, which had first finalised the project during its previous term, held its first meeting Thursday with the builder of the project, Smart City Dubai.

Addressing reporters here along with the Dubai officials, Chandy said all the issues have been cleared and an action plan for the project has been drawn up.

‘Before August 31 this year, their office that was closed down last year at Kochi would be reopened. On Oct 31, the foundation stone of the headquarter building of the project would be laid and the same day the construction work for the first phase (3.5 lakh square feet) would begin and it would be finished latest by Oct 31, 2012,’ said Chandy.

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Tecom to pump in more funds for Smartcity Kochi

Tecom, the promoters of the SmartCity Kochi project, is in the process of pumping in more funds to take the project forward.

While Emirates NBD, a leading banking group in UAE, will be main financier, support finance is being sought from the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) Bank.

IDBI Bank had consulted one of the director board members of SmartCity Kochi to evaluate the feasibility of the project. The bank is said to have received a positive feedback.
Dr Baju George is the new Smart City Kochi CEO In an effort to expedite the works of Smart City, Kochi, the Tecom has decided to appoint Baju George as the managing director of the project.

It was the five-member committee headed by the supreme council of Dubai Holdings, the parent company of the Tecom, that selected Baju George as the managing director.
Renowned NRI businessman MA Yusufali has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the UAE government’s Zakat Fund. The decision to appoint Yusufali at the top post was taken by the UAE Federal Government, thus making him the first Indian to decorate the position. The tenure is for three years.

The appointment of Mr Yusufali will be highly helpful for the functioning of the Zakat Fund, said Board Chairman and Minister of Justice Dr Hadif bin Juvan al Dahiri, according to reports. Eleven renowned UAE citizens have also been included in the Director Board. The Zakat Fund was launched by the UAE government in 2004 to spread the importance of the Zakat in the society and thus to strengthen human values and relations. The government reportedly allots lakhs of UAE Dirhams annually for it.

Mr MA Yusufali is the MD of the Emke Group based in Abu Dhabi which has diversified itself into several areas such shopping malls, super markets, department stores etc. The business empire of this Keralite hailing from Thrissur is spread over 29 countries in Asia and Africa, the major share being in the Gulf countries. His company is building the biggest shopping mall and convention centre in India which will reportedly be opened in Kochi in 2012.
Jobs in Smartcity KochiFinally, smart opportunities have come knocking at the doors of job hunters in Kerala. Putting an end to the wait for starting the construction works of Smart City Kochi, Tecom, the promoters of the project, has invited applications to various top posts for carrying out the work.

According to www.smartcity.ae, the official website of Tecom, the company wants a construction manager, document controller and senior engineers for design, mechanical and engineering services, buildings, infrastructure and cost control.

Kochi is set to become a predominant destination for the information and communications technologies (IT/ITES) industries. Being developed as a joint venture between SmartCity, a member of Tecom Investments, and the Government of Kerala, SmartCity Kochi will be home to vibrant knowledge-economy communities worldwide, anchored by leading local, regional and global companies, the site says.

To assist in achieving this vision, SmartCity Kochi is currently recruiting resultoriented, self motivated and dynamic professionals in these disciplines, the website says.

It was after clearing many hurdles that the Tecom and the Kerala Government signed a fresh lease agreement giving a new lease of life to the Smart City Kochi on February 23. Then, on March 2, the Union Government issued a special economic zone (SEZ) notification for 131 acres of the 246 acres handed over to Smart City project. The Union Government had already given the final SEZ approval for the 131 acres. The state government has started measures to secure SEZ status for the balance 115 acres.
Tecom had made it clear that the construction work would begin immediately after the issuance of the SEZ notification.

The construction of the boundary wall and the administrative block will be started on the 131 acres of land for which the SEZ notification has been issued. The works of the master plan for the project has almost been completed.


Kochi to get country's first health mall

A one-stop solution for all medical and health needs -- from doctors, hospitals, ayurveda centres, pharmacies and even insurance referral units -- will open in a 10-storied mall in this Kerala city.

The BCG group, a Rs.500-crore business conglomerate, is building the country's first multidisciplinary health mall here and it will be open by August, a company official said Thursday.

Spread over 110,000-square feet, the mall will include retail stores dealing with pharmacy, optical ware, skin care products, cosmetics, ayurvedic, herbal, organic, health foods, health and medical equipment, Rekha C. Babu, CEO of BCG Group, told reporters.

A separate floor will be for allied services where medical colleges, hospitals, ayurvedic centres and insurance companies can set up their referral centres.

SEZ status for 132 acres in Kochi SmartCity

The Central Government Tuesday issued a directive assigning Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status for 132 acres of land at the proposed Kochi SmartCity site. The rest of 114 acres of land will get the SEZ status in ten days.

Following this, SmartCity promoter Tecom will launch construction activities at the project site.

Kochi Smart city lease deed singed

Kochi Smart city lease deed singedThe State government and the Tecom singed the lease deed for the proposed Smart city project here on Wednesday. Smart city board chairman, minister S Sarma and Abul Lathif Almulla, TECOM CEO signed the deed at the board of directors meet held here. Suresh Kumar IAS, IT principal secretary and industrialist MA Yousafali also attended the meeting. Two separate lease deeds covering the entire 246 acres. one for 131 acres and another for the rest of the 115-odd acres for the proposed Smart City Kochi project were signed.

After the meet Sarma said that all the confusions and apprehensions over the project are over now.

Vytilla Bus Terminal video

Kochi Smart City Sign DeedTwo lease deeds to cover entire 246 acres of project area
: Surviving a difficult period marked by speculations over the fate of the project, the proposed SmartCity Kochi project will get off the blocks this Wednesday.

Two separate lease deeds covering the entire 246 acres — one for 131 acres and another for the rest of the 115-odd acres — will be signed on Wednesday. K. Suresh Kumar, IT Principal Secretary, and Abdullatif Almulla, CEO of Tecom Investments Group, the parent company of the promoters of the project, will be the signatories.

Both the parties had agreed on the lease deeds, which the Cabinet had also cleared. Ahead of signing the fresh lease deed, the one that expired will be cancelled.

The land will also be registered in the name of SmartCity Kochi Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, the special purpose vehicle formed for the execution of the project. The government will provide registration and stamp duty exemptions as agreed at a meeting held earlier this month. The board meeting and lease deed signing was originally scheduled to be held last Wednesday. But it had to be postponed at the last minute after Mr. Almulla's son met with an accident and had to undergo an emergency surgery.

Real Estate in Kochi ready to flourish

Real Estate KochiProperty developers in Kochi can look forward to brighter prospects with the International Container Transshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam being inaugurated and the hurdles cleared for the realisation of the SmartCity project.

The Rs.2,500-crore Cyber City project in the private sector will be another propellant of demand for commercial and housing property.

There has been a delay of four years in reaching the agreement on SmartCity, but the State's economy will turn upwards with the kind of development taking place, especially the Vallarpadam terminal, says Najeeb Zakaria, president, Kochi branch of Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association of India.

Kochi Cyber City by HDIL to be launched today

Kochi Cyber City ModelThe HDIL Cyber City, a Rs.2,300-crore IT park project which will add to Kochi’s IT dreams, will be launched on Thursday by Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem.

The project is coming up in an area of 70 acres of land at the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Kalamassery. Blue Star Realtors Private Ltd, a subsidiary of the Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) is the promoter of the project. The officials said 70 percent of the total built-up area was dedicated to IT infrastructure.

The project is designed to be completed in three phases. The first phase will cover the development of 2 million sq ft of IT space and it will be completed in three years. The HDIL Cyber City is expected to generate as many as 60,000 direct jobs and 1.5 lakh indirect jobs. The HDIL officials are consulting various IT firms to set up their establishments here.

ICTT Inauguration - Cochin Port - Video

Tecom delegates postpone visit to Kerala

TECOM delegates who were scheduled to reach Kerala today, to sign the lease agreement on the Smart City project at Kochi have postponed their visit. The visit was postponed due to the inconvenience of Tecom CEO Abdu Latif Al Mulla.

Tecom authorities informed that the date of their next visit will be informed later. The meeting is being held to discuss the outcome of talks held between the state Government and Tecom and will take measures to start the construction work at the earliest.

TECOM key to success of Smart City Kochi project

TECOM key to success of Smart City Kochi projectDubai has become part of Kerala's growth story with the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) going on stream and the Smart City project getting ready for take off. Dubai has already been indirectly contributing to the development of the state by providing jobs to 350,000 people. The remittances they send have been playing a big role in sustaining the state's economy.

But economists feel that the direct investment of Rs16 billion by DP World in the ICTT at Cochin port and an estimated investment of Rs20 billion by TECOM in the Smart City at Kakkanad may help the state to catch the industrialisation bus it has missed. The ICTT inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Friday has already attracted investment worth billions in several sectors. The investment in support infrastructure like rail and road links, warehousing, container freight stations alone is worth more than Rs26 billion.

The Cochin Port Trust's project to link ICTT with the state's main trading centres of Aleppey, Kottayam, Quilon and Kannur through inland waterways is also expected to attract substantial investment in barging. The CPT has already set up Ro-Ro terminals at Bolgatty and Willingdon Islands.

The port-based special economic zone being developed at Vallarpadam as part of the ICTT is also expected to bring in investment worth Rs75 billion. The other port-related projects in various stages of implementation are the Rs30 billion LNG Terminal at Puthuvypeen, Rs7.5 billion each single buoy mooring project of Cochin Refineries Limited (CRL) and the Cochin-Kannur-Bangalore gas pipeline of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and Rs3 billion cruise terminal.

PM inaugurates Vallarpadam Container Terminal

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dedicated to the nation the Rs 3,200-crore International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at nearby Vallarpadam, a major expansion project of Cochin Port Trust. The rail and road projects were also inaugurated by the prime minister.

Governor R S Gavai, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, Defence Minister A K Antony, Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi, Union Ministers Prof K V Thomas, Dr C P Joshy, G K Vasan, Mukul Roy, E Ahamed, Mullappally Ramachandran, K C Venugopal, Kochi Port Trust chairman N Ramachandran took part in the inaugural function. Representatives from Dubai led by D P World chairman Sultan Ahamed bin Sulyaminray attended the function.
Dr Singh in his inaugural speech said the Vallarpadam terminal will develop the district. He opined that along with the project, the water transport should be given importance.

Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan, who spoke on the occasion, requested the PM to take personal interest in fulfilling the Kochi metro and Palakaad railway coach factory projects.

PM to inaugurate Kochi international container terminal tomorrow

India's first International Container Trans-shipment Terminal (ICTT) in the Special Economic Zone at nearby Vallarpadam Island is all set to be dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow.

The total cost of the first and second phase of the terminal is pegged at around Rs 6,250 crore. When completed, the terminal will be able to handle 4 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of cargo per annum. The first phase of the project is ready to handle one million TEUs per annum.

The project will be operated by Dubai Port World (DPW) and aims to make Kochi a key centre in the shipping world, reducing India's dependence on foreign ports to handle trans-shipment requirements, Cochin Port sources said.

Once fully developed, the ICTT, a part of the expansion project at the Cochin Port, would be the largest individual terminal in India. As part of the project, India's longest railway bridge -- 4.62 km long -- was set up over the Vembanad Lake, thereby establishing rail connectivity to Vallarpadam from the mainland.

Port sources said ICTT will generate additional employment opportunities, facilitate investment flow to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore and help in the development of port-based industries to transform Kochi into an economic hub. However, the project is being commissioned at a time when the 326 families that were evicted for setting up the terminal at Vallarpadam are yet to get a roof over their head. Former Supreme Court Judge V R Krishna Iyer has said the move to commission the project without rehabilitating the evictees was 'shameful'.
In an effort to expedite the construction work of Smart City Kochi, a team led by the CEO of Tecom Investments group Abdullatif Al Mulla will arrive in the state soon.
The director board of Smart City Kochi will meet within a few days to discuss the outcome of talks held between the state government and Tecom.

The director board will also approve various decisions related to the Smart City.
Fresh lease agreements will have to be signed between the state government and Tecom. As only 136 acres of the 246 acres have got the special economic zone status (SEZ), two separate agreements will have to be signed to lease out the two plots of 136 acres and 100 acres, respectively.

It is a prerequisite to start the construction work.

The Tecom authorities, in a press release issued in Dubai, said they would soon take steps to complete the master plan of the project.

"We are extremely happy that the project is moving forward. As mentioned in the past, the project is bigger than any issues surrounding it and the recent decisions were taken in the larger interest of the project and various stakeholders associated with it. The recent development is a reflection of our vision for Smart City Kochi and the commitment to the people of Kerala," Abdullatif Al Mulla said in the press release.
He said the immediate priority of Tecom is to sign the lease agreement for the designated land and secure the SEZ status.

Tecom welcomes progress in SmartCity Kochi project

Tecom welcomes progress in SmartCity Kochi projectTecom Investments, the promoters of SmartCity, has welcomed the progress made in the SmartCity Kochi project in resolving the deadlock which had derailed the project for over three years. The SmartCity Board Members will soon be visiting Kerala to take forward the initiative.

In a statement, Abdullatif AlMulla Group CEO, Tecom Investments said, “We are extremely happy that the project is moving forward. As mentioned in the past, the project is bigger than any issues surrounding it and the recent decisions were taken in the larger interest of the project and various stakeholders associated with it. The recent development is a reflection of our vision for SmartCity Kochi and commitment to the people of Kerala.”

“Our immediate priority is to sign the lease agreement to secure the designated land for the project which will lead to the mission critical SEZ notification of the land. We are in the process of finalising the documentation for land registration as well as putting a process in place for the master plan work to commence”, added AlMulla. He was among the UAE delegation led by Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer, Member Supreme Council for Dubai World Group & Dubai Holding Group that met the Chief Minister on February 02, 2011.

Vallarpadam container terminal to be inaugurated on Feb 11

Vallarpadam container terminal to be inaugurated on Feb 11  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh willdedicate to the nation on February 11 the Rs 3,200-croreInternational Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at nearbyVallarpadam, a major expansion project of Cochin Port Trust.

Dubai Ports World (DPW), the terminal''s operator, hadcompleted construction of the modern terminal which would havestate-of-the-art cargo handling equipment, Cochin Port TrustChairman N Ramachandran told reporters here.

As per the agreement between CPT and DPW, the constructionof the terminal, its equipment and operations would be theresponsibility of DPW while the port would ensure road andrail connectivity to the project site and deepening of theshipping channels.

Emke group to invest Rs 600 cr in hotel cum convention centre in Kochi

Kochi International Convention CentreAbu Dhabi-based Emke group will invest Rs 600 crore to set up a convention centre and hotel in Kerala.

The convention centre and hotel complex is coming up in 26 acre land nearby Bolghatty.

"Talks are on with three Internationl hotel chains -- Ritz Carlton, Hyatt and Hilton group for the 7,000-room hotel complex", Chairman M A Yusuf Ali told at a press conference organised by the Ernakulam Press club here.

"Within a month, we will finalise it and by April, the work would start", he siad.

About 4,000 people would get direct employment once the hotel-cum convention centre is completed.

Kerala is a investment-friendly state, he said, besides the Rs 600 crore project, work on the Rs 1,500-crore shopping mall, claimed to be the biggest in the country, is also fast coming up here.

Eighty per cent of the work in the mall has been completed and by January next, the work is expected to start in full swing, he said.

Yusuf Ali, who has been appointed by the state government to iron out differences with the Dubai-based Tecom, promoters of the Kochi Smart city project, said he was happy that he could convince the Dubai government about the feasiblity of the Rs 1,500-crore IT infrastructure project.

Kerala Cabinet approves Kochi SmartCity treaty

Kerala Cabinet approves Kochi SmartCity treatyThe much-awaited yet delayed Smart City project is all set to to take off in Kochi.

The main hurdles which had been holding up the work on Kerala’s dream project for about four years were thrashed out by the state government and Tecom Investments officials here on Wednesday morning.

This followed talks held here between Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and Ahmed Humaid Al Tayar, governor of Dubai International Financial Centre.

Achuthanandan said that Tecom would be given freehold right on 12 per cent land but within the 246 acres which has been notified as special economic zone. This would mean that the promoters will not have the right to sell the land. Tecom’s insistence on getting the 12 per cent freehold land outside the 246 acres was the main object of disagreement between the two sides for the last three years.

It was the mediatory role played by NRI businessman M A Yusuffali that paved the way for the deal which was being projected by the Opposition UDF as a mascot of the LDF government’s inefficiency.
Smartcity Kochi - will become reality 2011The CPM-led Left Democratic Front Wednesday reached an understanding with Tecom, the promoters of Smart City project which has been hanging fire for the past several years over the freehold land clause.

The LDF government and Chief Minister V.S. Schuthanandan who was staunchly opposed to providing freehold land have now reached an agreement to allow freehold rights in 12 per cent of the land earmarked for the project inside the Special Economic Zone.

The original framework agreement inked by Infoparks and Tecom Investment FZ-LLC and Smart City (Kochi) Infrastructure Private Limited had a clause which stated that the promoters are entitled for freehold land.

Clause 5.4 under Article 5 states: "Upon completion of master plan that determines different plots amongother things, SPV will identify plots to be converted to freehold and such plots will be converted to free hold by GoK forthwith without any further consideration or charges. Cumulative area of the plots converted to freehold will not exceed 12 % of the total land area at any point of time."

But there was lack of clarity whether the freehold land would be inside the area marked as SEZ or outside.

The government argument is that promoters will not be able to sell the freehold land which falls inside the Special Economic Zone.

The framework agreement was for declaring the entire area consisting of 246 acres of the project as Special Economic Zone (SEZ). But the Central Board of Approval for Special Economic Zone (SEZ) accorded SEZ status to an area of 136 acres of the 236 acre earmarked for the Smart City project.The reason being that the remaining area is separated by a water body and needs a separate application.

Today’s meet may end deadlock of Smartcity Kochi

A breakthrough in the deadlock over the Smart City Kochi project is likely on Wednesday with the Governments of Kerala and Dubai having a one to one discussion. A delegation led by member of Supreme Committee for Dubai World Group and Dubai Holding Group Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer will be holding a meeting with Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan at his official residence at 12 noon. It will be followed by a formal meeting at the Mascot Hotel here.

Highly placed sources in the State Government said that the Government would be offering free hold rights over 12 percent of the total land earmarked for the project, but within the special economic zone. The delegation representing the Dubai Government is likely to accept this.

NRK businessman M A Yusuf Ali had already held deliberations with the Dubai Government representatives. Yusuf Ali is also likely to be part of the Dubai Government delegation. The Dubai Government delegation will also include TECOM group chief executive officer Abdul Latif Al Mulla and deputy chief executive officer of SmartCity Kochi Adnan Chilwan. ‘’If an understanding is reached on Wednesday’s meeting, the construction works for the SmartCity Kochi project could begin in another month,’’ IT Secretary Suresh Kumar said.

Al Tayer to visit Kerala to salvage Smart City Kochi project

DIFC Governor will meet Kerala officials on February 2
Al Tayer to visit Kerala to salvage Smart City Kochi projectDubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Governor Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer is visiting Kerala in a last attempt to salvage the Smart City Kochi project.

In a meeting held with UAE-based Indian businessman M A Yusuf Ali on Sunday evening, Al Tayer is said to have discussed the agenda for the crucial meeting the State government of Kerala is scheduled to have on February 2.

The Smart City project which was initially agreed to in 2003 has been delayed due to various stumbling blocks, the latest being the dispute over freehold rights over 12 per cent of the land.

According to reports, an understanding is said to have been reached between both parties, Tecom and the State government of Kerala to allow freehold rights over 12 per cent of the land earmarked for the project.

While Tecom has been demanding that freehold rights for 12 per cent of the land outside the Special Economic Zone, Kerala is opposed to this.

Kochi SmartCity: Dubai Government official to visit Kerala

In a last-ditch bid to end stalemate over the SmartCity IT project in Kochi, a senior representative of the Dubai government is expected to visit Kerala shortly to iron out differences between the state government and Dubai-based Tecom, the partner for the venture.

Confirming the reports in this regard, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan told reporters here today that the Dubai authorities had expressed wish for a discussion and the government had accepted it.

He, however, said no date had been fixed for the visit.

State Registration Minister S Sarma, who is also Chairman of the SmartCity Kochi, had yesterday said a representative of the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee (DFSC) had expressed wish to hold talks with the government to end the logjam over the project.

The proposed meeting was the result of mediatory talks held with Tecom and the Dubai government by a leading Keralite entrepreneur based in the Gulf, who has been acting as a mediator between the two sides to save the long-pending project.

SmartCity Kochi was envisaged as a joint venture project to set up a knowledge industry hub some five years back.

Though the government acquired about 240 acres of land for it and a framework agreement signed, the project has failed to take off due to differences between the two sides over the ownership of part of the land.

While the Dubai partners wanted free-hold right over some portion of the land, the LDF government in the state had firmly declined to accept the demand holding it was not part of the original agreement.

The government had also given repeated warnings to the Dubai company that if the project was delayed inordinately it would not hesitate to seek another partner or go ahead with the project on its own.

Kochi Smart CityThe State government will hold direct consultations with the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee (DSFC) in a final attempt to find a solution to the stalemate over the proposed SmartCity Kochi project.

The move is considered a clear indication on the part of the government that it wants to take up the issue at the level of the Dubai government rather than talking to SmartCity, promoters of the project.

Talking to The Hindu over phone on Wednesday night, Registration Minister S. Sarma, who is also the chairman of SmartCity Kochi, confirmed reports of such a meeting soon.

He, however, said the date for the meeting was yet to be finalised. Some television channels had reported that a representative of the DSFC would visit the State to hold consultations with the Chief Minister next week.

Asked whether the meeting was a final attempt on the part of the government to take the project forward with the Dubai-based promoters, Mr. Sarma responded in the affirmative.

He said the meeting was an outcome of the mediatory talks held by government-appointed mediator and NoRKA Roots vice-chairman M.A. Yousuf Ali.

He said the government had informed the DSFC of its willingness for a meeting (to find a solution to the stalemate over the project).

Mr. Ali had, during the course of his mediation, held talks with Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer, Supreme Fiscal Committee member of the Dubai government, on December 23.

Mr. Sarma expressed optimism of holding the discussions in a friendly atmosphere and taking the project forward.

He, however, said the government was resolute about not compromising on the original framework agreement.

The meeting, he said, would seek a solution without deviating from the agreement. He reiterated that the government would not go back on its stand that freehold rights could not be granted to promoters with the right to sell the land.

Asked whether the government would insist that the entire 246 acres identified for the project be inside a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), Mr. Sarma said that it was how the framework agreement perceived the project.

SmartCity CEO Fareed Abdulrahman, in his last press meeting, had said that there was no freehold within a SEZ hinting that the land over which they sought freehold rights should be outside the ambit of the SEZ.


SmartCity Kochi Decision within two days: Minister S.Sharma

SmartCity Kochi Decision within two days: Minister S.SharmaA decision on the future of the SmartCity project will be taken within two days, S.Sharma, Minister for Fisheries said on Tuesday. A discussion was held in Dubai on Monday regarding the project he said. The minister said that the government is hopeful towards the implementation of the project.

Sharma said that the LDF government is not ready to compromise on its earlier terms regarding the controversial project.

Now, a litigation over Kochi's name

kochi-cochin-ernakulamThe Kerala High Court on Monday admitted a public interest litigation contending that no area other than Cochin Corporation, and those included in Kochi taluk, should be called Cochin.

The petitioner submitted that the names Kochi and Cochin confuse those coming from outside the state.

For flight ticket bookings, the name of Kochi is shown as Cochin. The name of railway station is still known as Ernakulam.

The distinction between Kochi, Cochin and Ernakulam are confusing the outsiders, and in the circumstances it requires clarification.

"The area coming within the Cochin Corporation area, other than those included in Kochi taluk, cannot be called Cochin unless the government issues a notification officially changing the name of the Cochin Corporation," the petitioner submitted.

KSRTC is planning to introduce luxury double decker buses in Kochi

Kochi double decker buses by KSRTC Sky City and flyovers may be a distant dream for Kochiites but they may soon have the pleasure of travelling in double decker buses. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is planning to introduce luxury double decker buses in Kochi on the lines of double-deckers operating in London, New York and Dubai.

The body building of new double deckers is in the final stage in Mumbai and is being built by Ashok Leyland for the KSRTC. During the first phase, the KSRTC will ply the double decker buses in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi cities.

The service of the new double deckers is expected to start in February. However, the routes of the double deckers in Kochi have not been finalised.

The double decker bus worth about Rs 33 lakh will have a seating capacity for 75 passengers. The first bus will be operated in Thiruvananthapuram on the Peroorkada, Sasthamangalam, Medical College and Shanghumugham routes.

KSRTC’s double deckers with fluid clutches and automatic lubrication instead of clutch pedal being operated on the Peroorkada, Sasthamangalam, Medical College and Shanghumugham routes are still an inevitable part of Thiruvananthapuram city. “The gorgeous old war horses of KSRTC were an integral part of the Corporation’s rich tradition.

The new double decker bus can be used for sightseeing. It will run as stage carriage services in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. We have not reached a final decision on the fare,” KSRTC executive director (technical) O P Antony told ‘expresso.’ If the attempt by the KSRTC becomes a hit, it is planning to buy more double deckers for conducting services in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi.

These buses would be running by charging ordinary fare and the routes for Kochi have not been finalised. the first bus will be operated in Thiruvananthapuram on the Peroorkada, Sasthamangalam, Medical College and Shanghumugham routes.

Double decker buses worth Rs-32.5 lakhs will be having the seating capacity of 75 passengers. Double decker from Ashok Leyland is a mass transportation bus and is best suited for intra city movement. The vehicle has a 6 cylindered turbo charged inter cooled diesel engine with a maximum power of 132 PS @ 2400 RPM.
Double decker has a 5 speed synchromesh gear box and a maximum speed of 75 Kmph. The model is equipped with a power steering and dual line full air brakes.

KSRTC is also planning to re-introduce the old warhorse which was ruling Thiruvananthapuram (TR 666). A proposal has been mooted to convert the buses into tourist-friendly ones for sightseeing. The tourism industry has been demanding open-roofed double-deckers for sight seeing in the city. The proposal was on the lines of double-deckers operating in London, New York and Dubai for sightseeing

Kochi Smart City issue: Dubai Government to intervene

The Dubai Government will put pressure on Tecom, the promoter of the project, to remove the hurdles obstructing the launch of the Smart City, here.

This is on the basis of the talks held by Indian UAE envoy M K Lokesh with the Dubai Government.

Tecom had been demanding freehold right over 12 percent of the land, which was opposed by the Kerala Government. M A Yusuf Ali had recently held talks with the Tecom to find a solution to the issue. Meanwhile, it is learnt that Fareed Abdul Rahman will continue as the CEO of Smart City.

The SmartCity