Kerala CM snubs minister on IT park project


Thiruvananthapuram : The factional feud in the Kerala-unit of the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) surfaced once again Wednesday with Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan snubbing his industries minister here, saying his cabinet colleague had no role in the proposed Rs.1,500-crore ($316-million) Kochi Smart City IT park project.

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“In this project, he has no role,” Achuthanandan snapped after reporters quizzed him on Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem’s recent statement that all contentious issues regarding the IT project would be resolved in a week.

The factional feud in the CPI-M is centred around Achuthanandan and the party’s state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, to whom Kareem owes allegiance.

The Smart City project seems to have collapsed after its overseas developers, Smart City Dubai, Sunday said it had withdrawn the contract with UK-based planner Collin Buchnan to develop the IT township project.

It said its decision was taken as the state government was not honouring the agreement the two had reached.

Achuthanandan, who also handles the IT portfolio, said he has asked Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan to initiate talks with the Dubai developer to sort out differences.

Smart City Dubai urged the state government June 1 to assure 12 percent of the land for the project be made freehold.

The company said despite its “best efforts to sort out issues by way of action”, it has “only heard statements” in the media about more discussions on the subject.

There has been no progress in the Smart City Kochi project since Achuthanandan laid the foundation stone Nov 16, 2007.

The project, proposed to be jointly launched by the state government and Smart City Dubai, is slated to come up on a 246-acre plot with 8.8 million square feet of built-up space, of which 70 percent is earmarked for IT and IT-enabled services.

The government has already given a special economic status to 136 acres of the project area.

However, it has also not completed registration of the land nor settled the stamp duty issue.