Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 23 (IANS) Oomen Chandy, the leader of opposition in Kerala, said Monday that the state cannot afford to loose the proposed Rs.15 billion Smart City project at Kochi, which is to be built in association with the Dubai Internet City (DIC).
It was during his tenure as chief minister that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project was signed with DIC.
'What I hear now is that the present government is working out a totally different project than what we had envisaged. And if what I heard is true, the current one is detrimental to the interests of the state,' Chandy told IANS.
The former chief minister said the project, a joint venture with the Dubai government, could have attracted a lot of investments from the Middle East.
A DIC team had arrived here in August, held discussions with officials and had invited the state government to Dubai.
Subsequently, a four-member team held talks with DIC officials in Dubai in September. The government was to get back to the Dubai group in two weeks time.
But even after a month's time, there has been no progress. DIC officials have also expressed their displeasure in this regard, he said.
The DIC had reportedly refused to pay Rs.850 million for the 210-acre land as demanded by the Achuthanandan government. The Dubai firm said it could not pay more than Rs.410 million because they required another Rs.650 million to develop the marshy land and make it fit for construction.
The government has also refused to transfer the Infopark campus at Kochi and 62 acres of land near it to DIC.
'The Infopark houses two buildings and there is no scope for future expansion. Now I'm told that the Infopark is running at a loss of Rs.30 million,' said Chandy.
Achuthanandan, as the leader of opposition (2001-06), had opposed the transfer of the Infopark campus and demanded that no land should be given for free.
'The Left, led by Achuthanandan, made us sweat on this project. But we will never do what they did to us. We want the project to take shape and we hope that it does not get delayed anymore,' remarked Chandy.