Friday, May 25, 2007

Smart city @ Kochi..a tall order?

As a Keralite, I have been making more than an annual visit to Kochi and the surroundings for almost 3 decades now. The last few years has seen a sea change in the skyline and the ambience around Kochi-with most traditional landmarks giving way to the modern commercial complexes with fa├žade that could compete with a business district in any of the metros!

In the past, Kochi or Ernakulam as it was popular then, meant three main roads- and a hoste of retails shops on both sides-almost entirely textile and gold merchants-almost packed by visiting NRIs making up for their time away from home and family.

Today, as you drive into the city, you are overwhelmed with huge buildings towering over the coconut trees one normally expects-and an obscene number of large hoardings selling dreams of villas, and well equipped apartment buildings with swimming pools, gym, club house and the works..if possible, on the banks of the backwaters! The city has stretched about 20-30 kms in the suburbs of Alwaye, Tripunithura and beyond –with a host of new bypass roads that have come up in the last few years and the airport which was pushed away from the heart of the city.

The buzz can be attributed to

1.Three mega projects, the Vallarpadam International Container Terminal (VICT), Petronet's LNG terminal and the Smart City, were expected to lead to 200,000 jobs while related projects like the bunkering terminal, single point mooring (SPM) and new hotels would add to demand for apartments.

Smart City is a planned technology park , modelled on the lines of the Dubai Internet City, and expected to create over 90,000 jobs in the Information Technology and allied sectors. The infrastructure of the USD 350 million project would be commissioned by the Technology and Media Free Zone Authority of Dubai. Once completed, the park, with over 6.1 million sq ft of built up space, would become one of the largest IT parks in the country.

2. Kerala governments tourism initiative of projecting “God’s own country’ –has seen a lot of promotion of heritage locations and the tourist attractions –backwaters (Allepey, Kumarakom), hills (Munnar, Thekkady) apart from places of religious interests.

3. Private enterprise-there are a horde of resorts who have cashed in on the prospects of medical tourism-with retreats across the state promoting ayurveda, and spas primarily affordable only by foreigners!

Will Kochi deliver ??

A state known for its high literacy rates –will have to hope that its well informed and intellectual people will transform themselves into being ‘service oriented’ and perhaps, find more creative ways to protest other than the strikes/ sammelans –that seem to be a weekly affair affecting productivity.

Here is a great chance for Kochi to live upto Nasscoms promise as 2nd best destination for IT & ITES (after my adopted hometown Hyderabad !!) -and trigger off an all round development in the other old economy sectors too.

I am hoping my sceptism is misplaced! Am sure a lot of professionals who are presently employed elsewhere in the world, would love to return to their home state -and create more wealth and jobs !!


CANDY CAT said...

Have property price increased in the region due to Smart City?

Anonymous said...

Yes. Property price increases have be stratospheric.

Unknown said...

We should get a spot in Smart city before it gets bought up by the US giants