P. Venugopal

Initiative comes after DIC officials contacted Achuthanandan

DIC authorities in city on August 3 and 4Government will retain the Infopark premises at Kakkanad

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan ordered the `go ahead' for further official level discussions with the Dubai Internet City (DIC) for setting up the Smart City project at Kakkanad in Kochi. The discussions will be on the terms the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government offered before the Kerala High Court last month, a top Government official told The Hindu.

The official said the DIC authorities had directly contacted the Chief Minister to express their willingness to restart negotiations. He authorised his Principal Secretary Sheela Thomas and new Information Technology Secretary P.G. Tenzing to represent the State at the discussions. The DIC authorities will be here on August 3 and 4. elections in March-April this year, a key issue debated was whether the development philosophy mooted by the then Leader of the Opposition Achuthanandan and the LDF would allow such a project to come up in the State.

Mr. Achuthanandan had then alleged that several conditions conceded to the DIC by the then United Democratic Front Government during preliminary negotiations were against the interests of the State. The LDF Government had dropped such conditions when it clarified to the High Court the terms under which it was willing to negotiate with the DIC. According to the new terms, the Government will retain the Infopark premises at Kakkanad. The Government will realise land value from the promoters of the project at the prevailing market rates or the rates applicable to any other company in the IT sector.

The Government is also willing to allow the promoters to use a part of the previously agreed to commercial area in the Smart City to build quarters for IT professionals who work there. However, the previous clause that there should be no other Government-supported IT park in Kochi in future considered objectionable by Mr. Achuthanandan was dropped.