Special Correspondent

State government should act to resolve pending issues, says CEO

Differences over demand for freehold land

Government to seek details from Tecom

KOCHI: SmartCity Kochi has decided to close its contract with the U.K.-based consultancy that was to draw up a master plan for the project here.

The U.K.-based Colin Buchanan was chosen to formulate the plan a year ago.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, SmartCity Kochi Chief Executive Office Fareed Abdulrahman said: “Despite our best efforts to sort out issues by way of action, we have only heard statements in the media about more discussions on the subject of freehold. After our recent press meeting, it was said that SmartCity will come to know of the Government of Kerala’s decision by the first week of June.” Mr. Abdulrahman had earlier this month said at a press conference in Kochi that the project would remain on hold until the State government gave a firm assurance with regard to the contentious issue of SmartCity’s entitlement to 12 per cent freehold land.

But his latest statement struck a positive note by declaring that the master planners would recommence their activities once the State government took action to resolve “pending issues” and “mutually agreed on the way forward.” But, as of now the project authorities had been “forced to close our contract with the internationally renowned U.K.- based Master Planning Consultants.”

This was being done to “protect the best interests of SmartCity Kochi and its stakeholders, and further to all activities that were put on hold until now.”

Mr. Abdulrahman, however, reiterated “our commitment to the project.”

He also expressed the optimism that the project would be a success “with the support of the Government of Kerala on the pending issues.”

In the dark: Sarma

Minister for Fisheries and Registration S. Sarma said here that the Board of SmartCity was not aware of the cancellation of contract by Tecom, the Dubai-based promoters of the project, with the U.K.-based master planning consultant.

The cancellation of the award had taken place without the Board’s knowledge although the decision to award the design contract was approved by it.

The Minister said the government would seek details of the development from the Tecom authorities.

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