M.P. Praveen

KOCHI: In the wake of the State government decision not to grant the freehold right for 12 per cent land to the Dubai-based promoters of the proposed SmartCity Kochi, which is at the heart of the prevailing stalemate over the project, the meeting of the board of directors of the company slated later this month is likely to be tumultuous.

The meeting, it is learnt, is likely to be held in the last week of March in Kochi.

During his post-Cabinet briefing in the capital on Wednesday, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the government had informed SmartCity that its demand for 12 per cent freehold land was outside the original framework agreement and hence could not be allowed.

According to informed sources, what puzzles the promoters is the fact that why the government felt the need to assume an aggressive posture in the public when it could very well have raised the issue at the director board meeting, which is the most appropriate forum. Also they point at the freehold right guaranteed in the original framework.

Malta project

Meanwhile, as if to answer the Chief Minister's accusation, which he reiterated on Wednesday, that the SmartCity was intentionally delaying the project owing to its precarious financial position, the promoters issued a press release on the same day on its Chief Executive Officer Fareed Abdulrahman's visit to SmartCity Malta, a knowledge hub project along the lines of the one proposed in Kochi.

The release datelined Malta stated that the “construction of SmartCity Malta's first building, SCM01, is swiftly moving ahead on target and according to plan as the project is gearing up to welcome the first business partners.” The sources also maintained that though the government had publicly stated of having informed SmartCity about its decision not to grant freehold rights, the company was yet to receive any intimation officially. This was cited as the reason why the company had not yet responded to the government position.

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