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India's Dubai-linked IT city 'clears final hurdle'

Kerala government minister says construction of Smart City Kochi is expected to start soon

India's Dubai-linked IT city 'clears final hurdle'
Work is expected to start 'soon' on the Smart City Kochi project which was initiated in 2004.

All hurdles have been cleared for the $1bn Kochi Smart City, a joint venture between Dubai's Tecom Investments and the Government of Kerala, it has been announced.

The Smart City Kochi IT park project is expected to create 90,000 jobs in Kerala and aims to attract the best of knowledge based industries across the globe to set up their operations in Kerala.

Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy said in comments published in Indian media: "The last hurdles in the project have been overcome. Our request to make the entire project under a single SEZ (special economic zone) has been approved by the central government. This had caused a delay. Work will soon commence."

The concept master plan of SmartCity Kochi outlining facilities including education, health care, shopping boulevards and residential units was approved by officials last year.

"The master plan of the project will be redrawn soon," said Baju George, managing director of Smart City Kochi in comments published by the Indo-Asian News Service.

It added that Kerala's IT Minister PK Kunhalikutty flew to Dubai last week for a meeting with Smart City Dubai board members where he stressed that it should should speed up the project.

Phase 1 construction is slated to be completed between 18 to 24 months from the date of awarding the contract to the contractor.

The deal with the State Government of Kerala has been dogged by delays but a lease agreement signed in March 2011 gave it new momentum.

For Tecom, the deal represents a big step in its international expansion strategy of creating successful prototypes of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City at various locations worldwide.

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