Kochi, Jan 19: Kerala Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem laid the foundation stone for the Rs 4,000 crore 'HDIL Cyber City' here today and described it as among the 'most important' private sector investments in the state.
Speaking at the function, Mr Kareem noted that the project aimed at generating 60,000 direct and 150,000 indirect employment opportunities in the IT/ITES sectors. ''This is among the most important private sector investment proposals cleared by the LDF Government,'' he added. Stating that the industrial revival of Kerala was among the priorities of the Government, Mr Kareem said a number of proposals were being considered to this end.
Several projects had been cleared, including the 'Smart City' and Shobha Hi-Tech City infoparks in Kochi and an integrated industrial complex, to be set up by Malaysian company SIDP, in Kozhikode. The final agreement for the Kozhikode project was expected to be signed by March.
Several initiatives had been taken to revive the sick and closed PSUs in the state. To this end, Transformers and Electricals Kerala Ltd (TELK) had signed an agreement with NTPC while the Thiruvananthapuram-based Kerala Hi-Tech Industries Ltd (KELTEC) had been taken over by BRAHMOS, paving way for the setting up of the first defence production unit in Kerala.
Also, joint ventures between the state PSUs and the Indian Railways, SAIL and BHEL were in the offing, he added.
Stating that the Petronet LNG Terminal project here would be completed by 2011, Mr Kareem said a monitoring mechanism had been put in place for its time-bound completion.
The state government had also decided to go ahead with the Kochi Metro and a special officer had been appointed for the project, State Fisheries Minister S Sarma said. Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) Chairman Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan said the company would invest Rs 4,000 crore over a four-year period to complete the 'Cyber City'.
He noted that IT/ITES were set to grow by 30 to 35 per cent in the next five years and added that the IT sector accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the total commercial space absorption in the country. ''The IT space market is expected to grow to 90 billion US Dollar by 2015,'' he said.
Pointing out that NASSCOM had ranked Kochi as the second most favoured upcoming IT/ITES destination in the country, Mr Wadhawan said the 'HDIL Cyber City', to be spread over an area of 70 acres, would be Kerala's first integrated IT township.
While 70 per cent of the area would be dedicated to IT/ITES, the remaining would include residential apartments and villas, schools, shopping malls, a multiplex, a club house, service apartments and a star hotel.
Others present at the function included former State Tourism Minister K V Thomas, MP Chandran Pillai and MLAs V K Ebrahim Kunju and A M Yousaf.
Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who was originally scheduled to lay the foundation stone, could not attend the function due to ''urgent preoccupation'' in capital Thiruvananthapuram, the organisers said.