India Business
Kerala Smart City project gets new competitor
Mar 13, 2007 - 8:46:26 PM

Thiruvananthapuram, March 13 - The Smart City project at Kochi in Kerala has taken a new turn after a Hong Kong-based firm has showed interest for a similar venture with more attractive terms.

Top officials of the JB Group Tuesday spent half an hour with Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and termed the discussions as 'hugely fruitful'.

'The meeting with the chief minister was excellent and we have briefed him about what we intend to do. We will be back very soon with a full-fledged proposal for the project,' said Gautam Kanjilal of Infiniti Consulting Corp Ltd., the consulting arm of the Hong Kong-based JB Group to reporters here.

On Monday, the ruling Left Democratic Front - had asked the V.S. Achuthanandan government to save the project at Kochi by relaxing certain conditions.

According to the initial proposal that the JB Group would construct on a 100-acre plot of land near the Infopark, a seven million sq feet infrastructure for IT and IT enabled services.

'We will pay Rs.850 million as cost of land to be given on a 99-year lease and 26 per cent equity participation would be given to the state government. We would finish the project in 36 months from the date of signing the agreement and would provide direct and indirect jobs to more than 100,000 people,' said Kanjilal.

The JB Group has to its credit the Giga Space, a leading IT park in Pune that was recently awarded the best IT park in Maharashtra.

The proposal on paper appears superior than the one put forward by Dubai Internet City - officials on the Smart City project, where the Kerala government would have 16 per cent stake to start with.

Moreover, the land that the government has agreed to hand over to them is 248 acres at a cost of Rs.1 billion.

While the Achuthanandan government has agreed for a 25-year lease, DIC has said that this is too short a period.

In a reply to a question if the JB Group would still be around if the government inks deal with DIC, Kanjilal said that then they would have to do a study on the demand-supply aspect and if it is positive, they would still be around.

Asked whether the sudden surfacing of JB Group has put pressure on DIC, Kanjilal said: 'It was not intentional.'

DIC had inked a memorandum of understanding with the then Oommen Chandy government in October 2005. As leader of opposition then, Achuthanandan had opposed the transfer of the already-developed Infopark campus to DIC.

According to a new proposal, Infopark will not be handed over and no free land will be given. With JB Group arriving, it would be worth watching who finally gets the Smart City project.

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