Troubles with the proposed SmartCity Kochi refuses to go away as the notification of the entire 246 acres of the project site as a single Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is now likely to get delayed further.
The proposal for single SEZ was set to come up before the Union Commerce Ministry’s Board of Approval of SEZ on Friday. However, the Dubai-based promoters of the project and the State government were informed on Wednesday night that the matter had been removed from the agenda for the meeting.
“We were told that the issue needs a detailed discussion and therefore a separate meeting on it will be convened next week. The meeting will be attended by the representatives of the departments of revenue and commerce at the Centre, the State government and the SmartCity,” Mr Baju George managing director, SmartCity (India), told The Hindu from Dubai over phone.
Of the total project area, 132 acres were notified as SEZ in March last year. SmartCity Kochi had to apply separately for rest of the area as the two plots were separated by a water body. Efforts were being made since then to get the entire parcel of land notified as a single SEZ.
The single SEZ status is considered essential for the creation of the kind of social infrastructure required to fulfil the knowledge township envisaged by SmartCity in Kochi. Multiple SEZ, the promoters fear, would fragment the entire process and put hurdles in creating clusters of companies.
While the Union Commerce Ministry is in favour of granting a single SEZ, the revenue department within the Union finance ministry objected it. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy took up the issue with Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. Following this, the Additional Director General of Export Promotion was deputed to visit the site for inspection.
The official who visited the site on October had submitted report. “The decision to hold a separate meeting seems to have been based on this report. We are hoping a favourable outcome from the meet, Mr. George said.
The delay in getting the entire site notified as a single SEZ is likely to have a cascading effect on the implementation of the project. At the launch of the pavilion at the project site in June this year, Mr. Chandy had announced that the first phase of the project will be completed in 18 months.