SmartCity Kochi lease deed to be signed tomorrow

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.

The signing of lease deeds will be preceded by a meeting of the Board of Directors of SmartCity Kochi. The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on the Infopark Kochi campus.

According to sources, SmartCity Chief Executive Officer Fareed Abdulrahman, who is also a member of the Board of Directors, has not been included in the Tecom delegation.

However, government sources, denied that his exclusion was at the instance of the State government.

The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) notification for the plot of 131 acres, which had already been approved by the Board of Approval (BoA) of the Union Commerce Ministry, is expected within a fortnight from the day of signing the lease deed.

SEZ application for the remaining lot of land along with the SEZ Development Commissioner's approval will also be moved immediately. However, the notification was likely to take more time in this case as the application will first have to go before the BoA.

But this would not delay the project, as construction work could be launched on the 131 acres for which notification was expected soon.

With the term of the incumbent government set to expire shortly and the model code of conduct ahead of the election hardly a month away, construction in all probability would start as planned.

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