Trivandrum: The capital city of Kerala and Technopark, the IT hub in particular, is all set to lose the prestigious Downtown Technopark project, which would have seen the largest single foreign direct investment in Kerala of about Rs.1,200 crores, unless the State Government, the IT Department and the Technopark authorities act fast and give the necessary approvals.
Taurus Investment Holdings, a US based global real estate investment advisor, developer, and operator, had emerged as the successful bidder through the Swiss Challenge route to develop the Downtown Technopark project in Technopark Phase III in Trivandrum on about 20 acres of land on a 90 year ground lease.
As per the proposal, the Downtown Technopark project would have up to 2,000,000 sq. ft. of world-class technology office space and will also include retail, hotel and convention facilities. The project will involve an investment of about $200 Million and will generate about 25,000 employment opportunities.
According to documents made available to Kerala IT News, Taurus Investment Holdings has given an ultimatum to the Technopark authorities to conclude the process of land allotment to enable them to commence development of the project, failing which they would withdraw from the project.
In a letter addressed to the CEO of Technopark on January 30, 2014, Prof. Lorenz Reibling, Co-Founder, Chairman & Senior Partner of Taurus Investment Holdings wrote, “Even though three months have elapsed since the Swiss Challenge process drew to a close, we have not received any clarity as to the project award process despite the RFP mentioning a time frame of two weeks. As a global investment organisation, this poses great difficulties for us. We urge you to bring the land allotment process to an immediate conclusion by February 15, after which we have no option but to re-evaluate our continuing partnership in this endeavour.”
According to Ajay Prasad, MD – India, Taurus Investment Holdings, “Our proposal was cleared by the Technical Sub-Committee of the Technopark Board in early January 2014, which recommended immediate award of the project to us. Thereafter it has been converted to a Cabinet note which has been cleared by the Finance & Law Department. It now awaits the signature of the Minister for Industries & IT, following which it has to be endorsed by the Chief Minister and formally approved in the State Cabinet. We are honestly mystified as to why the note has not been approved.”
As per the initial Government Order issued to commence the Swiss Challenge, the Technopark Board was directed to complete the process and make the award by itself. There was no mention of a Cabinet approval.
“This is the single largest FDI into Kerala by a US-European firm, and it will generate 25,000 direct and 75,000 indirect job opportunities, and will very likely attract signature US and European technology and retail tenants to Kerala. It is mind boggling that the Government should not approve such a windfall with the greatest of haste. We have already been in touch with several major US and German firms to become anchor tenants at our 2 million sq. ft. office complex”, said Ajay.
“Any continued delay will cause major damage to the investment attractiveness of the State. The US and German consulates are aware of the project and I fear that any failure to uphold a transparent bid process will irreparably damage Kerala IT’s reputation, at a time when Kerala is struggling to compete with our neighbouring States to attract any IT or infrastructure investment at all. Our future investment plans in Kerala will also be thrown into jeopardy if our Technopark project does not make any progress”, he added.
Meanwhile, Technopark authorities have not responded to emails from Kerala IT News to give us a status update on the project and also, the time required for the allotment process to complete.
Kerala IT News