Kochi SmartCity will be a township (and not an IT Park?)

Here is some interesting news about the future of Kochi Smartcity project. According to the latest news, TECOM has stated Smartcity will be a township.

I have been keenly watching the progress of Kochi Smartcity project last several years with a lot of enthusiasm. In April 2005, I started this website (YourSmartCity.com) with the intention of supporting the Smartcity project while the opposition was fighting tooth and nail saying we are selling our state.

I played my role in gathering support for the project through Internet Marketing. I was one of the many happy people among thousands of other Keralites who celebrated the approval of the project by the Kerala Government. I wasn't concerned when Govt said a few crores of rupees discount will be given to Smartcity and some hundred acres of land will be given away. If you look at the overall ROI in terms of job potential and economic growth in the state, those few crores are negligible.

Smartcity - the expectations

I am an IT professional returned to India after working about 10 years in USA. 7 years ago, when the talk about the dream project filled the headlines in newspapers, I started preparing for my return to India hoping I can continue a great career in the Smartcity in my homeland. Now I am back to India, but not to Kerala. All my dreams about working on Kochi Smartcity didn't materialize for reasons known to all.

Even though I did couldn't return to Kerala, I was still hopeful that Smartcity will become a reality in another few years and Kerala will get one of the biggest IT Parks in India. But are things getting shady again?

Smartcity will be a township and not an IT Park

I am not sure what is written in the MoU and initial agreements but common people of Kerala like me had an understanding that the Kochi Smartcity will be an IT Park where thousands of IT Professionals could work and help towards the economic growth of Kerala.

Where did I get this wrong? I am shocked to see the news today in the media that Smartcity will be a township and Information Technology will be just one of four clusters in the township. The remaining clusters will be IT enabled services, residential complex, a commercial cluster, theatre complex, hospital and shopping mall.

So what does this mean? When you walk into the Kochi Smartcity, you are going to see some shopping malls, hospitals, apartments, movie theaters and a few IT companies behind them? Is it what all the educated youth of Kerala expected from Smartcity? Is it what we all waited for so many years?

If IT is just one of many clusters, why did the initial discussions about Smartcity talked about there cannot any other IT Parks in Ernakulam district and nearby areas? Why didn't it include there cannot by any other hospitals, theaters, shopping complex in Ernakulam district since they are also included in the business plans?

Smartcity will be a township

Source: The New Indian Express

I do support any sort of development in the state including Metro rail, FDI, Express Highway, Smartcity, Kerala Airlines and so on. I am not against about state giving away some land for development as long as Govt has the right objectives and appropriate measures have taken to protect the interests of the state while understanding that every business is coming to the state to make profit and not to help us. That is part of business and is a win-win situation. They make profit, we get development and job for our state.

While I am not at all against a township in Kochi by TECOM, what makes me upset is, we were not expecting a general township as mentioned in the latest news. We were expecting a major IT Park or an IT Township and majority of the business will be related to Information Technology. At Least that is how it was projected to us and all over the world. While I welcome one or many modern townships in Kerala, Smartcity should have been an IT Park, several times bigger than the InfoPark and Thiruvananthapuram Techno Park.

Recently I was speaking to a group of IT professionals in Kerala. According to them, once Kochi Smartcity become a reality, all Malayalies will return to Kerala and big IT companies operating in other cities like Bangalore and Chennai will face huge brain drain. Large electronic parks like Bangalore Electronic City will lose it glamour. According to them, Smartcity will be the largest IT Park in India.

I explained to them that a Smartcity coming up in 130+ acres of land will not even come close to the size of many IT Parks in Bangalore and Chennai. It may not even find a place in the IT Map of India as a large IT park but it is still a big thing for Kerala. Lot of people like me would return to Kerala, even though it won't significantly affect the bit IT cities.

I honestly believe the news that Information Technology is just one among many clusters in Smartcity has shattered the dreams of Malayalees. May be I am wrong. I got it wrong from the beginning that it is going to be a large IT Park while the actual proposal was building a township.

What do you think? Is the new announcement is in alignment with what were expecting? Please share your opinion.


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