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Thiruvananthapuram: Thanks to the efforts of two brand ambassadors of Kerala - first Dubai-based businessman MA Yusuf Ali and superstar Mammootty - the proposed Smart City project at Kochi is now within striking distance of the investment-starved state.
The move came immediately after Mammootty air-dashed to Dubai early this week to hold discussions with DIC officials. Mammootty, when asked by IANS if he was instrumental in swinging the project for Kerala, replied with a modest "I think so."
"I was in Dubai and held discussions with DIC officials. This was nothing official but I had a keen interest that investment should come to Kerala and I did what I could do," the actor said on telephone from the Kochi airport.
Yusuf Ali also had discussions with DIC officials in February to push the state's case with the IT company. With the green signal coming from DIC, the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders held a meeting here Friday to give their green signal for the project.
The cabinet is expected to give its official clearance when it meets next Wednesday.
Achuthanandan had been opposed to the project saying its provisions, initiated by former chief minister Oommen Chandy, were not in the state's interests.
According to the Chandy-led government's proposal, the already developed Infopark campus in Kochi was to be transferred to DIC. Chandy had also agreed that no new IT park would be allowed in the Ernakulam district by the government after the agreement with DIC was inked. Also, DIC was to create 33,000 jobs in 10 years.
But according to the new proposals, the 248 acres of land given to DIC for the project would not be freehold and it would have to pay Rs.1.04 billion for it.
Achuthanandan has also insisted that the existing Infopark not be handed over and demanded an assurance for the creation of 90,000 jobs. He also maintained that DIC would have no say in other IT ventures that might come up in Kochi.