Staff Reporter

Tecom backs out of director board meeting

Tecom wants State to fulfil promises

State reluctant to include ‘patta’ land in fresh lease

KOCHI: The imbroglio surrounding the proposed SmartCity Kochi project deepened further after Tecom, its Dubai-based promoters, backed out of the sixth director board meeting that was to be held on Monday.

Though indifferent health of the vice-chairman of SmartCity was given as the reason for withdrawing from the board meeting, it had by now become clear that the decision was borne out of the disillusionment with the State government for not fulfilling its promises.

SmartCity wanted the various provisions included in the Framework Agreement signed with the State government in May 2007 to be incorporated in the fresh lease. This included adding of “unacquired patta land” of 19 cents (0.08 hectare) located at the centre of a land measuring 114 acres (46 hectares) and more importantly incorporating a clause pertaining to 12 per cent freehold land. Though the acquisition of 19 cents was not an issue of conflict, it still required the cabinet to approve it, which had not happened yet.

The government’s reluctance to include these provisions in the fresh lease and to sign it subsequently was holding up the entire project.

Talks on same things

It is pointed out that the very same things were discussed in the last five board meetings held during the past one-and-a-half year and there was no point in discussing them a sixth time unless the government was prepared to perform its part.

The government stand, it is learnt, was that the SmartCity should start the construction of the project while all other issues could be resolved later. However, this was unacceptable to SmartCity, which was of the opinion that these key issues cannot be set aside for a future day.

The argument that the State government cannot provide freehold land to a foreign company was also being shot down pointing out that SmartCity Kochi was very much an Indian company registered under the laws of the country with the participation of a State government.

The promoters, it seems, had send out a clear message that they were no longer prepared to wait endlessly. If the government refused to reciprocate in time, the company would be forced to consider various options, including dropping the project altogether or leaving Kerala for the more receptive neighbouring States, it is learnt.

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