1. Vizhinjam - In February, we had predicted that the bid would be completed by the end of the year and indeed it has. The tender to develop the $ 2 Billion port was awarded to a Lanco-led consortium on May 13th. The project then swiftly achieved all Central clearances. However, a legal challenge by a disqualified bidder, Zoom Developers, has led to a protracted legal battle which has currently reached the Supreme Court. It is expected that the legal hassles will be cleared up in the next few weeks and that development of the project can go ahead. Lanco expects construction to start in late-2009/early-2010.
2. Technocity - The Government of Kerala formed KSITIL, a SPV to implement Technocity and other, smaller IT projects. The RFQ for Technocity and Technopark Phase III was released shortly thereafter and 9 major developers including majors like Forest City, Emaar MGF, K.Raheja Corp and L&T were qualified to bid. However, the financial tsunami of September 16 has put the developer community on the back-foot across the world and the bids have been postponed by the Govt. in order to get better results. In parallel, the Govt. may also try to tie up with investors through the MoU route as many international firms have expressed a keen interest in the Technocity project. It now looks like mid-2009 before the first investor can be tied up even as land acquisition for the 450 acre project proceeds.
In parallel, Technopark has started development of the Phase III campus with 2.1 million sq.ft of space due to be constructed in a Hafeez Contractor-designed futuristic campus.
GoK is also planning to develop an Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) around Technopark-Technocity and the studies on the project are already underway.
3. Airport Development - This is well on track as structural work on the Phase I of the New International Terminal (T3) and the Air India MRO nears completion. Phase I is expected to be operational by April 2009 and Phase II by October, while the MRO will be commissioned in June.
4. IIST and IISER - Full marks here - both institutions are already operational, the IIST at the VSSC campus and the IISER at the CET campus. Their own sprawling campuses are already under development.
5. Road and Rail Development - Work has restarted on the Trivandrum City Road Improvement Project (TCRIP) with Punj-Lloyd deploying subcontractors for the initial work. Meanwhile, tendering of the 4/6-laning of NH-47 from Trivandrum to Cherthalai has been completed and work is expected to start soon. Work on the MEMU services on the Trivandrum - Kollam route have commenced while the development of Kochuveli Satellite Terminus is ongoing. The upgradation of Trivandrum Central to world-class standards is on hold as the PPP model for the entire 16-station project is under discussion in Delhi.
Work has also started on the K.Raheja - Marriott International Convention Center Complex at Aakulam while the first Phase of the 10,000-seater Infosys campus is under construction and is due to be operational in April 2009. The 460,000 Sq.ft. Leela Infopark is also near completion while work is on at Phase II of the IBS Campus and the NEST Development Center.
While the global economic crisis has impacted the city's economy, the residential sector continues to power when the rest of Kerala is flagging with leading players including DLF slashing prices elsewhere. The 36-floor iPark project by Nikunjam is the signature of the ongoing development in Trivandrum's housing market. Malls by Nikunjam, Condor and Kshitij are under development.
The retail market is also doing well with outlets from Big Bazaar to Sunny Diamonds opening during the year, with many more expected in 2009.
And last, but not the least, Trivandrum was chosen to be the host city for the 2010-11 National Games. Preliminary work is already in progress to develop a 50,000 seater main stadium, an Athletes' Village and associated facilities with a total outlay of over Rs 1000 Crores.
On the whole 2008 has ended better than 2007, although on a slightly glum note due to the world-wide financial melt-down. The devil has been in the details for projects like Vizhinjam and Technocity which have made significant progress in the year but are still a little short of the finishing post. Let's hope that they, along with a host of new developments will make 2009 a year of resurgence for Trivandrum. Stay tuned for a perspective of 2009.
Enjoy your New Year's Eve, party on folks and stay safe!