Smart City Talks inconclusive

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Kochi: The two-day talks between the Kerala government and Tecom, Dubai to take forward the proposed Smart City in Kochi turned out to be inconclusive, but both parties were confident that the deadlock would be broken. Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan, who led the Kerala delegation, said discussions were yet to be concluded and would continue.

The talks were held Wednesday and Thursday.  “Certainly, the discussions are fruitful but not yet concluded, that is what I would say,” said Gangadharan. The proposed project, to be jointly launched by the state government and Smart City Dubai, is slated to come up on a 246-acre plot with 8.8 million square feet of built-up space, of which 70 percent is earmarked for IT and IT-enabled services.  The government has given a special economic zone status for 136 acres of the project.  But it has neither completed the registration of the land nor settled a contentious stamp duty issue.

Smart City Dubai chief executive Fareed Abdul Rehman said the next round of discussions would take place at the director board meeting slated for Sep 30.  “Nothing has been concluded because there are a few issues to be sorted out,” said Rehman. Chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan had laid the foundation stone of the Rs.1,500-crore ($316-million) IT township project Nov 16, 2007, but there has been no progress since then.  The project has hit a road block with over the issue of giving 12 percent freehold land to the Dubai firm.

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