The construction of SmartCity Kochi will be launched in August and the entire project will be completed within five and a half years.

The Dubai-based promoters of the project came up with such an undertaking a day after the pre-construction works were launched at the project site at Edachira near Kakkanad on Monday.

Abdullatif AlMulla, chief business development officer of Dubai Holding and vice-chairman of SmartCity Kochi who is in the city to review the progress of the project, told reporters that the project has finally come alive during the past two months thanks to the coordination between and support of Dubai and Kerala governments.

Stating that the project was moving towards reality, Mr. AlMulla cited the launch of pre-construction work as promised as further evidence of this. “Construction will be launched as soon as we receive the environmental clearance.

I am really satisfied with the progress of the project and the team is doing fantastically well,” he said.

Mr. AlMulla evaded a question on the cost overrun due to the delay in the execution of the project. “We are moving forward and don’t want to look at what happened in the past,” he said.

Mr. AlMulla then unveiled the perspective image of the first IT building with six lakh sq.ft spread over 50 acres to be constructed in the first phase.

SmartCity (India) managing director Baju George was confident of receiving the environmental clearance at the hearing slated for July 6 in Thiruvananthapuram.

He said that the application was foolproof as it was vetted by even an independent agency.

Mr. George didn’t foresee a denial of clearance stating that the worst case scenario was the grant of a conditional approval subjected to compliance with the recommendations suggested.

“Application for the building will be submitted through the dedicated single window clearance set up by the government for SmartCity Kochi on July 15. The sanction will be received within 15 days,” he said.

Mr. George said that the first building will be completed within 18-22 months. Though as per the agreement the entire project needs to be completed within 10 years, Mr. AlMulla is particular about completing it within five-and-a-half years, he said. Mr. George said that the project would come up on three parcels of land of 100 acres, 131 acres and 14 acres. He said that a fresh application would have to be filed for securing Special Economic Zone status for 14 acres. Asked how difficult it would be to attract companies to SmartCity Kochi considering the slowdown in the industry, Mr. George said that it would not be an issue citing the NASSCOM forecast that the Indian IT industry will exceed $300 billion by 2020.

“This means that IT infrastructure will have to be increased three fold. Considering that manpower is the main ingredient of IT industry, Kerala will emerge as an ideal destination because of its wealth of educated youth,” he said.

Gigo Joseph, SmartCity Kochi CEO; Sankey Prasad, chairman and managing director of the Bangalore-based Synergy, project manager; and Robert Marshall of B+H, the Canada-based architect group designing the first building, were also present.

More In: Kochi