The construction work on the $10-billion (around Rs. 45,500 crore) Gulf Finance House Economic Development Zone (GFH EDZ) formally commenced on Sunday with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, performing the ground-breaking ceremony.

The project is promoted by the Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House, which is among the successful and innovative Islamic investment banks in West Asia. GFH is listed on the Kuwait and Bahraini Stock Exchanges as also the London Stock Exchange.

Spread over 1700 acres

The GFH EDZ is spread over an area in excess of 1,700 acres at Panvel near Mumbai and will be country's largest, foreign direct investment (FDI)-driven integrated development project.

The project comprises three distinct components, namely Energy City, IT & Telecom City and Entertainment. On completion, the project will house around 1,40,000 residents and is expected to generate direct employment to over 2,50,000 people and indirect employment to 750,000 people.

The project boasts cutting-edge design excellence and aims at de-congesting the city of Mumbai.

Addressing media, Esam Janahi, Chairman, GFH, said: “We are confident that we will be able to complete Phase I of the project which comprises infrastructure and development works within the next 30 months.”

GFH had initially announced its plans to set up ‘Energy City India' in October 2006 through a ‘working together' agreement with the government of Maharashtra. The project area then was only 300 acres. In December 2007, the project scope was enhanced to 1,600 acres and GFH signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Maharashtra to develop ‘Integrated Economic Development Zones.' The project size was finally enhanced to 1,700 acres and the development will cover an area of 8 square kilometres.

Mr. Chavan said that since the designated location fell under the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority , it would hold an equity in the project. “A special purpose vehicle has been created for execution of the project and we will extend any infrastructural support that is required. We have converted the land into Zone 1 for the development.”

Boost to tourism

Expressing happiness that the tourism sector would get a boost, the Chief Minister said: “One area that needed encouragement was tourism and the Entertainment City coming up will certainly give a fillip to this sector.”

While elaborating on the project components, Mr. Janahi said: “Spread over about 480 acres, the Entertainment City will be first of the three components of GFH MEDZ to go alive. It is planned as a special attraction of entertainment and commercial-related uses, including a mix of hospitality, leisure and recreational facilities, with complementary commercial and residential components.

The other two key components of the project are the 760-acre Energy City which is the second in a series of energy-focused business clusters planned across the West Asia and Asia, the first being Energy City Qatar and the latest being Energy City China and the 470-acre IT/Telecom component, known as MITTIC, featuring a centralised IT Office Park that acts as a business core catering to IT/Telecom industries.”

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