Kochi: Dubai-based Tecom Investments said on Sunday that it had ended a contract with UK-based Master Planning Consultants to develop the proposed SmartCity in Kerala’s Kochi city, dealing a potential setback to the $400 million information technology project.
Differences between the promoters and the Kerala government over freehold land meant for the project led to the scrapping of the contract.
Farid Abdul Rahman, chief executive officer of SmartCity Kochi, said the Kerala government had provided no assurance that 12% of the land meant for the project would be freehold.
“In order to protect the best interest of SmartCity Kochi and its stakeholders, and further to all activities that were put on hold up until now, we regret to inform all those concerned that we have been forced to close out our contract with the internationally-renowned, UK-based Master Planning Consultants,” Rahman said in a statement.
It had been agreed earlier that 12% of the 246 acres to be leased for the project would be freehold land which the company would have the right to put to use as it desires. On the remaining area, it would and build 8.8 million sq ft of space and bring in IT companies that would provide 90,000 jobs in 10 years.
“Despite our best efforts to sort out issues by way of action, we have only heard statements in the media about more discussions on the subject of freehold. After our recent press meeting, it was said that SmartCity will come to know of the Government of Kerala’s decision by the first week of June,” Rahman said.
Early this month, Rahman told a press conference here that it could not go beyond 2009 if the government failed to accept the condition of freehold land.
The project was envisaged as part of a network of self-sustained townships for IT-based industries, similar to Dubai Internet City and Dubai Knowledge City.
“Regardless of this, we would like to reiterate our commitment to the project and are sure that with the support of the Government of Kerala on the pending issues, SmartCity Kochi will be a success,” Rahman said.
“Once the Government of Kerala takes action in resolving the pending issues and we mutually agree on the way forward, the Master Planners will recommence developing SmartCity Kochi,” he said in the statement.
S Sarma, minister and chairman of SmartCity Kochi, said the government was yet to receive any information and Tecom could not arbitrarily take such a decision.
The Kerala government had earlier said on several occasions that Tecom was not keen on going ahead with the project because it had been hurt by the global financial turmoil. Tecom authorities denied this.