India: Dubai Holding opens $291m SmartCity Kochiby Neha Bhatia on Feb 22, 2016
The first phase of a proposed smart city development in India, promoted by Dubai Holding, was launched in Kochi.
The project is being developed under the aegis of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.
SmartCity Kochi, worth $291m (AED1.1bn), is planned to be a self-sustained industry township for knowledge-based companies in the city, situated in southern India's state of Kerala.
The project is Dubai Holding's second offshore hub after SmartCity Malta, with the Dubai developer holding 84% stake in the project.
The government of Kerala owns the remaining 16% stake.
Officials present at the project's launch included Mohammad Al Gargawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and chairman of Dubai Holding; Ahmad Binbyat, vice chairman and managing director of Dubai Holding; P.K. Kunhalikutty, chairman of SmartCity Kochi; Yousuf Ali M.A, managing director of the UAE's Lulu Group; and, Sunny Varkey, chairman of the UAE's Gems Group.
Initially launched in 2004, the project was delayed due to numerous legal and political concerns, with changes required in its framework agreement.
The project spans 99ha and will be developed in three phases.
The project's first phase, worth $58.1m (AED213.7m), will generate up to 5,000 job opportunities.
Up to 75% of an information technology (IT) tower in the development, spanning 60ha, has been leased out by 27 industry companies.
Companies in SmartCity Kochi will be offered virtual or physical presence in Dubai and Malta.
According to project officials, the most pertinent concerns regarding construction work include land encroachment concerns, and adequatte road developments.
Jaber Bin Hafez, vice chairman of SmartCity Kochi, said: "Developing the infrastructure facilities like roads, bridges and power supply had to be done before the commencement of the construction process."
While no immediate impact is expected due to existing concerns, new roads will nevertheless have to be constructed in order to ensure the project is not delayed.
The lack of adequate approach roads into the SmartCity, which has to be borne by the Kerala government, topped the list of grievances aired by the Dubai-based promoters, Gulf News reported.
Phase 2 of the project has also been launched, and comrpsies seven towers, including India's largest for the IT industry.
The tallest tower will be situated in a 16.7ha project, which will be developed by Sands Infrabuild, the IT division of Lulu Group.
The second phase is due for completion within 30-36 months.