Progress on the SmartCity Kochi project seems to have slowed down again, despite a fresh start of sorts that was made with the launch of the construction work of a pavilion at the project site in Edachira near Kakkanad last October.

As has been the case with the project at every stage since the laying of its foundation stone in November 2007, the timeline set for the completion of pavilion was also not followed. The work that was to be finished by mid-January is still nowhere near completion.

The meeting of the board of directors held at the Chief Minister's chamber on March 21 did not show any renewed efforts either. Without any progress whatsoever to talk of, the board meeting was held in a low key fashion.

Asked about the hush-hush manner in which the board meeting was held, government sources said that the event did not attract media attention as it was held while the Assembly was in session.

It is learnt that SmartCity Kochi authorities made a presentation on a concept master plan for the project while seeking more time for finalising it.

The absence of a Central government notification declaring the entire 246 acres as a single Special Economic Zone had been cited as the reason for the delay in drafting the final master plan.

The delay has had a cascading effect on promotional campaigns, which were to be kick-started from Bangalore by February at the latest. SmartCity authorities reportedly asked for a couple of months for the completion of the pavilion. The government sources attributed the delay to normal obstacles that hold up constructions in this part of the world.

Though there was not much progress in the project, the company law mandated holding the director board meeting before the end of March. The meeting was a throwback to numerous futile board meetings held during the tenure of the previous Left Democratic Front forced by similar legal compulsions. One meeting even ended in a few minutes.

Unless the project makes any progress in a time-bound manner, it runs the risk of lapsing into another bout of inertia.

SmartCity authorities have presented a concept master plan while seeking more time to finalise it.

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