Foundation stone for 'Smart City' on Nov 16

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Kochi, Nov 15: The city of Kochi will take its first major step to be put on the global IT map with the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Rs 1,500 crore 'Smart City' project at Kakkanadu here tomorrow.

Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and Executive Chairman of Dubai-based TECOM Ahammed Bin Byat will jointly do the honours at a mega event, expected to be attended by nearly 10,000 people.

Senior TECOM officials, including Director Smart City Farid Abdul Rahman, Director (Planning and Strategy) Baju George and Marketing Director Jazia Mohammed, would participate in the function.

The project, first major FDI in the IT sector in the state, would spread over in an area of 8.8 million square feet, of which 70 per cent would be for IT and its enabled services.

To be modelled along the lines of the Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City, Smart City would be home to the best IT companies from India and abroad, Mr Byat said during the signing of the final agreement with the Kerala Government in May this year.

The project is envisaged to create a total of 90,000 jobs within ten years, besides triggering a real estate boom in the city, the signs of which are already evident. New residential apartments, shopping malls, hotels and other such projects are being announced in the vicinity of the Smart City. Land prices, which were Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per square feet till a few years ago, have shot upto Rs 5,00000, property developers say.

The Kerala Government will initially have a 16 per cent stake in the project, which will be increased to 26 per cent within five years.

The project was first mooted in 2003 during the previous United Democratic Front government, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Dubai promoters. However, the proposal came to a standstill following the change of government in the state last year.

The Left Democratic Front, which had opposed the project while in opposition, renegotiated the terms of agreement with TECOM. The principal changes were a higher stake for the state government and a decision not to hand over the government-developed Infopark to Smart City.

Expressing pleasure at the new agreement, Mr Achuthanandan had said not only will the Smart City strengthen ties between Kerala and the West Asia but also go a long way in positioning Kochi and Kerala on the global IT map.


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