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Thiruvananthapuram, May 4

THE Kerala Government will take nine per cent equity in the Smart City project being promoted by Dubai Internet City (DIC) in Kochi.

This was decided by the State Cabinet on Wednesday while approving the project, which envisages an investment of Rs 1,500 crore in the first phase. The proposal was finalised at a meeting the high-power committee of the Government, headed by the Chief Secretary, had with DIC officials in Kochi last week.

The Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, told newspersons after the Cabinet meeting that the project was designed to generate 33,300 direct jobs over a period of 10 years. The draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the project was being whetted by the Finance and Law departments and it would be signed shortly, he said.

The Government will hand over 62.27 hectares of Infopark in Kochi, along with the buildings, to DIC for a consideration of Rs 109 crore. The equity of the Government in the project will be met out of this amount.

The Government will also acquire another136 hectares of land and give it to DIC charging a price of Rs 36 crore. In addition, yet another100 hectares of land will be handed over to the promoters free of charge as per the Government's IT policy, which promises 30 cents of free land to companies for every 100 jobs generated.

However, the companies setting up shop in the Smart City, which will have world class infrastructure, will not be eligible for any other concessions listed in the IT policy.

Halcyon Castle

The Cabinet also decided to bring in an ordinance to take over the Halcyon Castle at Kovalam and 4.11 hectares of land surrounding it.

The Government had earlier issued an executive order to take over the castle, which was struck down by the High Court.

Mr Chandy said that the Government decided to bring in the ordinance in the light of the legal opinion it sought following the court's directive. The Government is clear in its stand that the castle and the land belonged to it and is determined to see to it that it comes back to its possession.

However, the Government will extend all support to the hotel there, which was established at a huge investment.

The Chief Minister made it clear that the Government would not go back on any development project for fear of corruption charges.

At the same time, it would not hesitate to inquire into specific charges of corruption in respect of any project.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 5, 2005)
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