Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that the first phase of the proposed SmartCity Kochi project is expected to be operational within 18 months.

Addressing a press conference after the director board meeting of the SmartCity Kochi convened immediately after the launch of the SmartCity Kochi pavilion here on Saturday, Mr. Chandy said there will be no further delay in the implementation of Kerala’s dream project.

The first phase of the project includes a building spread over 3.5 lakh sq.ft.

Admitting that the project delay has resulted in a cost escalation of about Rs. 500 crore (the latest project cost estimate is Rs. 2,000 crore), Mr. Chandy said that the SmartCity Kochi will be implemented in a time-bound manner. He said that the project will enjoy a single special economic zone (SEZ) status thanks to the revision of guidelines for SEZs being initiated by the Union government.

He said that the SmartCity Kochi project will be considered as a single SEZ even though there is a water body separating the land in to two parts. With the notification of the revised guidelines, the entire 246 acres will receive a single SEZ status.

However, Abdullatif AlMulla, Group Chief Executive Officer, Tecom Investments (promoters of the SmartCity Kochi project) and Vice Chairman of SmartCity Kochi project, said that the first phase will be completed only in 24 months after getting all the required approvals. He said that money is not an issue in the timely completion of the project.

Asked about the financial status of Tecom amidst reports that the company is facing a financial crunch, Mr. AlMulla said that Tecom is not a public limited company and hence he need not disclose its latest financial position. He said Tecom will ensure that Kerala becomes a preferred destination for IT professionals to work and live here without any hurdles.

The Vice Chaiman of SmartCity Kochi project said the company hopes that the government will fulfill all its requirements for the timely implementation of the project.

Referring to the safety concerns expressed by SmartCity authorities over GAIL (India) Ltd’s proposed plan to lay a pipeline through the site of the SmartCity Kochi project, Minister for Industries P. K. Kunhalikutty said that talks are on with GAIL authorities to resolve the issue amicably. He said that other issues including better road connectivity and shifting of power lines will be taken up immediately.

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