The Smart City project had included the following agreements with the previous UDF government led by Umman Chandy:
- Handing over the successfully running Info Park to TECOM
- Cheap land price (“The consideration for the lease shall be Rupee One (Re 1) per acre per annum, payable annually in advance”)
- Only 25% of the total land for IT, rest for Real Estate business of TECOM (read this along with the land price they were asking for)
TECOM had also played some business games. They spread out the word that they are going to step back from the project and the mainstream media and the pseudo-intellectuals started to cry over it in the name of ‘development’. But then after a while, seeing that their tricks are not going to work, TECOM came back to the talks and agreed to some of the LDF led government demands. This was painted as a sacrifice of DIC (Dubai Internet City) by most of the media, but I really do not find any reason for that. I don’t know if the TECOM CEO Abdul Lateel Al Mulla or any other company officials have any ancestral origin of Kerala or any other emotional contacts as such to make this ‘sacrifice’ for Kerala.
Anyways, the result of the hard stands of the Achuthanandan government has helped to achieve the following:
According to the new proposal, Infopark will not be handed over and Kerala would lease around 210 acres of land to DIC for around Rs.800 million ($17.2 million) and no free land will be given to it. Also there is an increase in the State’s holding to 26 per cent from 9 per cent.
At the same time it is a failure of the government and the media here in Kerala that they had not explained about the controversial demands of TECOM that helps only the company, not the state.
Like all other ‘development hungry Keralites’, I was also keen on seeing Smart City project in action and hadn’t really thought about the TECOM demands. Even my vote went to Chandy’s candidate in the last elections. But the recent developments leaves a question as to why the Umman Chandy government had not considered even some negotiations with TECOM and why was he too keen on agreeing to the demands of TECOM which I mentioned above?