After 11 Years, SmartCity Turns into Reality

KOCHI: After a 11-year wait, SmartCity Kochi (SCK), the dream project of the state, will be a reality when its first phase is dedicated to the nation on Saturday.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of Dubai Holding Mohammed Al Gargawi, Minister for Industries & IT and SCK Chairman, P K Kunhalikutty, Leader of Opposition V S Achuthanandan and Dubai Holding Vice Chairman and MD Ahmad Bin Byat will be present on the occasion. The launch of SCK Phase 2 will also take place. The Phase 1 includes a 6.5 lakh sq ft IT tower.

“Twenty seven IT firms have already been leased out 75 pc of the available space in the first IT tower and many of them have already started their fit-out jobs. The names will be announced at the inaugural function,” said Jaber Bin Hafez, Vice Chairman, SCK, at a media conference. “A company in SCK can have virtual or physical presence in the SmartCity in Dubai or Malta,” said Baju George, Interim CEO and Board Member, SmartCity Kochi.

SmartCity-Kochi assumes significance for its walk-to-work township concept, which is the most successful model in the country’s IT sector.

Replicating the SmartCity model, Technopark and Infopark, the other major IT parks in the State, are also in the process of adopting the walk-to-work concept.

According to the 2016-17 Kerala Budget, in the 2014-15 financial year, the State exported IT products worth Rs 11,000 crore. It is expected to rise to around Rs 15,000 crore in 2015-16.
The State Government has set aside a whooping Rs 482.87 crore for IT and e-governance. With commissioning of phase-I of SmartCity, the State’s IT sector will get yet another boost.

“SmartCity-Kochi is an integrated township. Apart from IT buildings, SmartCity will have schools, housing projects, hotels, play grounds, multiplexes and hospitals.

The IT boom is not going to happen without the support of social infrastructure. Soon after the commissioning of phase-I, the Gems Group’s school with capacity to accommodate around 4,500 students will be launched.

The phase-I will also feature a 15,000-sqft daycare centre named Little Gems, and a healthcare facility by Aster Medcity,” said SmartCity CEO Baju George. In phase-II, seven IT towers will be constructed in three years, in addition to apartment complex, shopping mall, entertainment complex, hospital, hotel and multiplex.

In addition, 100-sqft studio apartments for women are in the pipeline.

On completion of the entire SmartCity project, the Kochi Metro will be extended to the IT hub. A mobility hub with boat jetty, stadium and a five star hotel will also come up in the area.

The Smart Progress

2004 September

P K Kunhalikkutty, IT Minister in UDF Government led by A K Antony initiates the project

2005 January

UDF Government led by Oommen Chandy invites the Dubai Internet City (DIC) officials for a feasibility study

April 27

DIC team visited the Smart City project area as part of a feasibility study.

June 24

The opposition LDF announced that handing over of Infopark to Tecom was not acceptable.

September 9

A memorandum of understanding was handed over after a consensus between DIC and state government

2006 January

Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan lashes out against the project by dubbing it as “a real estate swindle to loot the state’s precious assets”.

March 7

The Election Commission stays the signing of MoU as the Assembly elections are announced.

April 19

Kerala High Court gives green signal to the government to go ahead with the signing of the final agreement, by holding that the code of conduct would not apply as the decision to start the project was taken in 2004.

June 15

Declaring that there was no change in the LDF’s opposition to Smart City project in its present form, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan says DIC was welcome to go to West Bengal.

2007 April 12

Kerala government decides to assign land for a period of 99 years on lease.

May 13

LDF government modifies the earlier MoU and the Government and Tecom investments sign the updated framework agreement.

November 16

V S Achuthanandan lays the foundation stone for the Smart city Project.

2008

March 20, SEZ status conferred to 136 acres of land for the proposed project.

2009 February

Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan states in the assembly that the lease agreement with Tecom on Smart City has lapsed as per the Indian Registration Act.

2011February 2

Deadlock ends following talks between Chief Minister and the UAE government representative Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer, who is also the Governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre

February 23

A fresh lease agreement was signed by IT secretary Suresh Kumar and Tecom in the presence of Smart City Chairman S Sarma.

October 8

Construction of SmartCity Kochi launched by the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy

December

Ministry of Commerce grants a single SEZ status for entire 246 acres of land

2012 June 9

The SmartCity Experience Pavilion, which locates the offices for the administrative and project management team, launched