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Kochi, May 1

THE Kerala Government and Dubai Internet City (DIC), the biggest IT infrastructure provider in West Asia, have in principle agreed to set up a `Smart City' on the outskirts of Kochi to house IT companies.

The Smart City, which is estimated to entail an investment of Rs 1,500 crore, is expected to add a new dimension to Kerala's efforts to attract IT companies.

After months of discussions, which culminated in the in-principle pact, the State Government and DIC will sign a memorandum of understanding soon, officials said.

The Smart City will come up on 389 acres identified by the Government.

Earlier, differences between the State and the DIC cropped up mainly on pricing of the land.

Other States such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh were also interested in the project, but it is now almost certain that the Smart City will eventually come up in Kochi.

Details of the agreement are not known. The Chief Secretary, Mr Palat Mohandas, said after the meeting that the agreement was "on the whole acceptable".

Once completed, the project is expected to generate 33,000 jobs. DIC would market the facility to international IT and BPO companies.

Though Kerala has lagged behind other Southern States in attracting investments, of late it has been able to emerge as a potential destination for technology firms.

Leading software firms such as TCS, Infosys, and Wipro have already set up facilities in Kerala.

The State currently has Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram and Infopark in Kochi as two IT infrastructure facilities. The Smart City is expected to give a tremendous makeover to the State's image as an IT destination.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 2, 2005)
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