Muthoot bids for Smart City-like project

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Muthoot Pappachan Group has offered to take up a project on the lines of the Smart City in Kochi on terms seemingly better than those offered by the Dubai-based Dubai Technology and Free Zone Authority (TECOM), with whom the State Government is negotiating a joint-sector deal.

At a press conference here on Thursday, the group's director Thomas George Muthoot said the group would like the Government to give it 200 acres (about 80 hectares) of land in Kochi on lease for 99 years against a payment of Rs.180 crore as one-time lease. The group would offer the Government 26 per cent stakes in the project and create 14 million square feet of built-up space for IT industry, creating around 80,000 direct jobs within three years.

Mr. Muthoot said he had presented the proposal to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan earlier in the day. "We found the Chief Minister very positive in his approach," he said.

The project, as envisaged by the group, will also have a non-processing area with a built-up space of six million square feet. This area will have a star hotel, residential apartments, a shopping mall and facilities for sports and recreation. The group hopes to achieve financial closure for the project within three months of the execution of the memorandum of understanding or agreement with the Government. The first phase of the project would be completed in 24 months from the date of the agreement, he said. Describing the group's credentials, Mr. George Muthoot said the group was the biggest private investor in the State, with its business spanning financial services, hospitality sector, automobile dealership and IT infrastructure. The `Technopolis' promoted by the group in Kochi has 3,55,000 square feet of built-up space occupied by leading IT companies such as Cognizant, Sutherland, Wipro and Williams Lea. He said that, in addition to the 26 per cent stakes to the State Government, the group would offer 23 per cent of the equity in the project to non-resident Keralites.