SmartCity Kochi takes wings today
T K Devasia/Trivandrum
Filed on February 20, 2016 | Last updated on February 20, 2016 at 08.48 am
Cabinet Affairs Minister of United Arab Emirates Mohammed Al Gergawi will throw open the 650,000 sq ft-first phase of the special IT economic zone.
Overcoming protracted political wrangling for more than a decade, the SmartCity project in the state’s commercial hub of Cochin will take wings with the inauguration of the first phase on Saturday.
Cabinet Affairs Minister of United Arab Emirates Mohammed al-Gergawi will throw open the 650,000 sq ft-first phase of the special IT economic zone promoted jointly by Dubai-based TECOM group and the Kerala government.
Chief Minister Ommen Chandy, Industry Minister P K Kunhalikutty, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, Dubai Holding vice-chairman and managing director Ahmad bin Byat, SmartCity vice-chairman Jaber Bin Hafez and Emke group managing director Yusuff Ali will also attend the inaugural ceremony of the state’s dream project, which is expected to create 90,000 jobs. The foundation stone for the second phase consisting of seven blocks of 4.7mn sq ft and an international school with a capacity of 3,400 students will also be laid on the occasion.
This also includes a 30-storeyed IT tower and a 300,000 sq ft office space and supporting facilities.
The IT tower with a total of 1.8 million sq ft to be built by Sands Infra, the IT wing of UAE-based LuLu Group International, will be the tallest IT building in Kerala. The supporting facilities by co-developer MATT Projects include food court, cafZ, fitness centre, recreational facilities, f and a business centre for IT, BPO and other knowledge companies. Jaber Bin Hafez said that the entire project would be completed by 2020. He told reporters at Cochin on the eve of the inauguration that TECOM was also looking for other cities in India for setting up similar projects.
SmartCity managing director Baju George said that several global firms had evinced interest in the project. The first phase has already been fully booked. While 75 per cent of the first phase has been leased out to 27 firms, the remaining space (one floor) is reserved for a major company. Baju George said that these firms were expected to be operational within three months providing jobs to 5,500 professionals in one shift. The number of professional will go up if the companies introduce more shifts and utilise the excess capacity.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government hopes that the project, which was delayed due to objections from opposition Left Democratic Front, will take Kerala to the forefront of India’s IT sector.
The project envisages a futuristic knowledge hub in 246 acres of land to house ICT, media, finance, research & innovation giants. The chief minister said that the project had the potential to take the IT aspirations of Kerala to new heights.
“The project is one of the proud symbols of Kerala’s developmental initiatives. I am sure it will unveil many avenues of opportunities to prospective stakeholders, enabling them to become part of one of the most harmonious destinations for doing business in India,” he added.