Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that the first phase of the proposed SmartCity Kochi project will turn operational within two years.

Talking after launching the work of the pavilion at the project site at Edachira near Kakkanad, Mr. Chandy said that the work of the pavilion will be completed within 14 weeks.

“Once it is completed, the work of the first phase of the project will start immediately and it is expected to be complete within 20 months. In effect, the first phase of the project will begin in next two years,” he said.

Mr. Chandy emphasized on the need to complete the project in a time bound manner and pledged full support of his government and the people of the State to the promoters.

Offering felicitations, Minister for Information Technology and Chairman of SmartCity Kochi P.K. Kunhalikutty said that the project will enable educated youth from the State roaming around the globe as part of their work to return to the home State. He said that different phases have been set for the completion of the project and assured that they will be complied with.

Mr. Kunhalikutty said that during the meeting of the board of directors held ahead of the ground breaking ceremony, the promoters had assured that they had set apart enough funds for the project. “Completion of the project in a time bound manner is what’s important,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Abdullatif Almulla, Group CEO of Tecom Investments, said that SmartCity Kochi was a strategic project for Kerala. “Because, it’s the future. We are committed to create 90,000 jobs as per the framework agreement. It will attract Foreign Direct Investments and talented people to the State. And it will create the right opportunities for many start-ups to grow,” he said.

Mr. Almulla said that the partnership with the State government was extremely important to his company. He said that the company won’t do anything with the full support of the government. Thanking both the UAE and the State governments as also the previous LDF government, Mr. Almulla said that Tecom had taken the project very seriously from day one. “We are committed to work with the State government continuously to ensure that the project moves forward and is delivered,” he said.

S. Sarma, MLA and chairman of SmartCity Kochi during the term of the previous government, said that political divisions should not come in the way of the progress of the project as it was the collective need of the State.

He, however, said that Tecom had in an agreement signed with the previous government in February had committed to start the work in March. “That did not happen and only Tecom alone knows the reason (for not starting the work),” Mr. Sarma said.

M.A. Yousuf Ali, member of the project monitoring committee, said that amidst all the controversy surrounding the project its capacity for job creation should not be lost sight of. He reminded that loss of jobs in the Middle East, upheaval in Libya or the financial slowdown in US ultimately affected the Malayalis working in these places.

Mr. Ali said that the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee considered SmartCity Kochi as a prestigious project and had conveyed its commitment to complete the project in a time bound manner.

Excise Minister K. Babu and Public Works Minister V.K. Ibrahim Kunju, MPs K.P. Dhanapalan and P. Rajeev, MLAs Benny Behanan, Hibi Eden, Saju Paul, V.P Sajeendran, Joseph Vazhakkan, Mayor Tony Chammany were among those present.

Baju George, Managing Director SmartCity (India) proposed vote of thanks.