|Industry||Information Technology Business Park|
|Genre||Infrastructure Service Provider|
|Owner||16% Government of Kerala, 84% TECOM Investments|
SmartCity Kochi is an IT Special Economic Zone under construction in Kochi, Kerala in India. Smart City (Kochi) Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. is a joint venture company formed to develop the Kochi Smart City project. Government of Kerala (16% share), TECOM Investments (84% share), a subsidiary of Dubai Holding are the main investors of the company. This project envisions minimum 8.8 million sq. ft. of built up space out of which at least 6.21 million sq. ft. will be specifically for IT/ITES/allied services. The project is expected to create over 90,000 direct jobs.
SmartCity Kochi is one of the first two projects of SmartCity's vision to build a large network of knowledge-based industry townships across the world. Other being SmartCity Malta, whose first phase was inaugurated in October 2010.
Location and connectivity
SmartCity Kochi is located approximately 12 kilometres (7 mi) from downtown Kochi and 22 kilometres (14 mi) from the Cochin International Airport. It is located in Kakkanad, which is the Ernakulam district headquarters. The project is coming up next to InfoPark, One of the IT Parks in Kerala. The presence of InfoPark, SmartCity, KINFRA Park, etc., makes the region of Kakkanad a very important center for IT/ITES in the state of Kerala.
PeakAir Pvt Ltd handles a major portion of the data traffic inside SmartCity and has a Data Center inside SmartCity, which provides the park with 100% uptime data connectivity. Other major bandwidth providers such as Tata Communications, BSNL, Reliance, Bharti Airtel and Power Grid Corporation are also present in the park.
Progress of the project
After the breakthrough on the disputes in February 2011, the project has gained momentum and is in the construction stages now. Construction of SmartCity was launched by the Chief Minister Mr. Oommen Chandy on 8 October 2011 in a glittering event held at site. The SmartCity Experience Pavilion, which locates the offices for the administrative and project management team, was launched on 9 June 2012. The first phase of the project, includes a building spread over 3.5 lakh sq.ft, is expected to be complete in 18 months time.
Ministry of Commerce have granted a single SEZ status for entire 246 acres of land in December 2011. There were few issues in getting a single SEZ status as the land is separated by a waterbody. Approval for the project as a single SEZ was important to avail the benefits of a multi-purpose SEZ.
The first phase which started operations on May 2016, involves a four storied building with 6.5 lakh space, which is India’s second largest LEED Platinum rated IT building, after UST Global Building in Technopark, Trivandrum.
In the second phase, there are four co-developers involving construction of 65 lakh sq-ft of space, which will be completed in 36 months. It involves M A Yusuff Ali’s Sands Infra, Holiday Group, Prestige Group, Maratt Lgd, Gems International School and Elton Technologies.
According to the agreement signed by the Government of Kerala and Tecom investments, the project expects an investment of ₹2000 Crore. The project would be spread over 246 acres (99.6 ha). On completion, SmartCity Kochi would be one of the largest IT parks in the country. The project is expected to have minimum 8,800,000 sq ft (820,000 m2) of built up space with a minimum of 6,200,000 sq ft (580,000 m2) set aside for IT/ITES/allied services. It was to be the first SmartCity project in India and second in the world by the Tecom Investments group.
The project was originally initiated by P.K. Kunjalikkutty the IT Minister in the UDF government in 2004. Later when Oommen Chandy was the Chief minister, the government invited the Dubai Internet City officials for a feasibility study and later the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in year 2005. Due to protest from opposition parties who alleged that the agreement is not in the best interests of the state and due to upcoming state assembly election, the government could not go ahead with the project.
After V. S. Achuthanandan took over as the chief minister, he invited the Dubai Internet City team for another round of discussions. He proposed new suggestions and altered the earlier MoU signed by the Oommen Chandy government. On 13 May 2007, the officials of the Government of Kerala and TECOM Investments signed the updated framework agreement. Then for the next four years, the project was in a standstill mode due to few unresolved differences between state government and TECOM. The main hurdle was TECOM's demand for selling rights on the 12% free-hold land. Government was ready to give the 12% free-hold land only inside the SEZ, which made it impossible for TECOM to sell that portion to a third party under the SEZ policy by the Government of India.
These issues were resolved on 2 February 2011, in a meeting between Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan and His Excellency Ahamed Humaid Al Tayer, member of the Supreme Fiscal Committee for Dubai World Group and Dubai Holding Group, UAE. This breakthrough was arrived as a result of the mediation by the Vice Chairman of Norka-Roots and a renowned businessman from the state M. A. Yousuf Ali.
- FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT. kerala.gov.in (2007-05-13).
- Agreement reached on SmartCity project. Thehindu.com (2011-02-02). Retrieved on 2012-09-12.
- Kerala, Tecom end uncertainty over SmartCity Kochi. Thepeninsulaqatar.com (2011-02-03). Retrieved on 2012-09-12.
- Smart City @ Kochi: 100,000 jobs likely. Rediff.com (2004-11-23). Retrieved on 2012-09-12.
- SmartCity-Malta inauguration. Timesofmalta.com (2006-12-06). Retrieved on 2012-09-12.
- SmartCity Kochi project first phase in 18 months. The Hindu (2012-06-09).
- Single SEZ status for Smartcity. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-09-12.
- Smart City Project: Agreement signed. kerala.gov.in (2007-04-14).
- Government of Kerala, TECOM sign lease deal for ‘SmartCity Kochi’. GulfNews.
- MoU for Smart City inked. Khaleejtimes.com (2005-09-10). Retrieved on 2012-09-12.
- Decks cleared for Kochi infotech project. Indiavision.com (2011-02-02). Retrieved on 2012-09-12.