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