Thursday, January 17, 2008

Looking back at 2007.....(Part I)

As 2007 rolled in, we had taken stock of the previous year and predicted a list of what we could look forward to. In an ideal world, that wish list would have come true in its entirety, but in the real world, there are seldom Santas to fill the Christmas sock. So how did we do?

The 2007 list is reproduced below (in italics), with the current status immediately below in blue letters.

.....and what we can Look Forward to in 2007:

- Handover of Technopark Phase III land to real estate majors like Rahejas, L&T etc and IT majors like PCS, IBM, Satyam etc

The handover is yet to happen, but the land acquisition is finally in progress and should be complete in another month or so. An investor's conference has been called on Jan 24th to discuss the development of Phase III and Phase IV (Technocity) with leading international and national developers.

The Rs 6000 Crore Technocity, Kerala's biggest IT project, is expected to be in development by April 2008.

- Commencement of work on the 1.5 million sft, 12,000 seater Infosys campus.

* Yep, well on its way to completion.

- Commencement of work on the TCS Development Centre

* Not yet. The 1.1 million sq.ft is awaiting EIA approval and is expected to start work in another 2-3 months' time.

- Completion of Leela Infopark and IBS campus

* Yes, Phase I of the IBS Campus was inaugurated in September while structural work on the Leela building is complete and finishing is proceeding briskly. The first Phase of the Tata Elxsi campus has also become operational.

- Start of work on the 4-laning of NH-47, starting with the IT Corridor

* Not yet. The impasse between the State and Centre on allowing BOT projects caused a year's delay. Now that GoK has finally relented to the inevitable, the work is expected to start in late-2008.

- Award of tender for the Vizhinjam Project and start of civil work on the $ 1 billion megaproject

* The big one, and still pending. January 31st is the date now. Fingers crossed!

- Construction of long-distance bus terminal at Eanchakkal and upgradation of the Thampanoor terminal

* Both are pending as the quest continues to identify who takes these projects up. The only consolation is that both have found mention in the JNURM list and so should take off soon.

- Completion of Phase II development of Kochuveli railway terminal and start of work on upgradation of Trivandrum Central to a world-class station

* Both projects are underway, albeit at a slower pace than expected. The main tender for upgradation of Trivandrum Central on a PPP basis is expected to be handed out sometime in the middle of 2008.

- Start of new services by International and Domestic Airlines like Saudi Arabian, Etihad, Spiceject, Kingfisher, Go-Air, Indigo, Air-One etc

* Etihad and Kingfisher are here, along with a couple of other new airlines. The rest are still awaiting DGCA clearance, which is expected as soon as the current upgradations to the existing terminal complex are completed.

Meanwhile, the work on the New International Terminal at the Chackai is well on its way to completion in September 2008. The Second Phase of the Terminal will be completed concurrently, as AAI has tendered it out on a urgent basis due to the exploding passenger traffic.

Tenders have also gone out for the Air India MRO complex which is slated for completion in 10 months.

- Entry of top real estate players like Rahejas, DLF, Unitech, Ascendas, Emaar, Pantaloons and more and retail giants like Shoppers' Stop, Reliance, Westside etc into the Trivandrum market.

* Except for Ascendas, everyone else is in town. Stay tuned for more news of their projects.

- Opening of the five star luxury Taj hotel at Vazhuthacaud

* Not yet, finishing work is nearing completion. Extensive remodelling to meet the requirements of Taj has added nearly 18 months to the completion time of the project. The five-star luxury hotel is now expected to open in April 2008.

- High Court Bench in Trivandrum.

* With stout resistance from the entrenched lawyers and Judges of the Court, who show no sign of acceding to logic and agreeing to a Bench in Trivandrum, where the High Court really belongs, the issue is deadlocked. The Government has shown a rare sign of resoluteness by declining to sanction additional Judges until there is agreement to set up a Bench in Trivandrum. Despite the inescapable fact that most of the cases coming before the High Court being those related to the State Govt., the ridiculous state of affairs when the Court is located 200 Km from the State Capital continues.

So, 2007 was a mixed bag for Trivandrum and its citizenery, and for Kerala as a whole. While there was some progress in terms of developments in the IT sector and the Airport, most of the other initiatives still await salvation.

However, the end of the year and the beginning of 2008 have been brighter. As the Technocity and Technopark Phase III projects finally get into implementation mode, the tender date of Vizhinjam approaches and the agreement for the City Roads Project is renewed, things are looking up for all of us. Fingers and toes crossed of course!


  1. Good idea to have a look back! what about in 2008 Ajay?

    C'mon, put forward your expectations for this year. :) I'm sure this is going to be the year that will transform Trivandrum. I will be happy if Vizhinjam gets going soon...

  2. Re:High Court Bench in Trivandrum,
    I think it is a very selfish idea to set up high court bench in Trivandrum.I feel that it is to help some selfish lawyers and some lodging business get more money. It seems the person who posted the message wants the people in North Kerala and central Kerala to travel to 500 Kms to Trivandrum to file case against Government. Clearly that is not acceptable. On the contrary, it would be nice to change the capital from Trivandrum to Kochi since it would benefit everyone in Kerala .Trivandrum is in the remotest corner of Kerala with the adjective of “city” as a joke. I have lived in Trivandrum for 7 yrs and found it as the most boring city I have ever lived. I have lived in many cities and now living in Australia.I have felt the feeling of living in a city only in Kochi. Look at the amount of revenue collected in Kochi and the numbers of high rises coming up in Kochi. It may be 50 times more than Trivandrum. I was amazed to that difference when I visited the Skyline builders website to see number of new projects in Kochi.I think Kochi is the only city that supply the taxes equals all other districts combined together. Kochi is multicultural and has very friendly people and well connected to every place on earth by Nedumbassery Airport (Such a lovely airport!!!!!).Once Metro Rail is complete you can get anywhere in Kochi in split second.Most of the people in Kerala come to Kochi for shopping. So, how about shifting the capital from Trivandrum to Kochi? Trivandrum is capital now only by the name sake. All the power and money of Kerala is controlled from Kochi. Money rules the world.So instead of infighting, let us all Mallus work together to shift capital from Trivandrum to Kochi.

  3. Xavier, first of all, that the High Court should be in the State Capital is an inviolable principle. And the Capital is usually setup in the best city in the State and not the geographic centre. This is why Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and indeed, Delhi are the respective capitals. If one went by your line of argument, the Supreme Court and North & South Blocks should be immediately shifted to Nagpur! When Kerala was formed, Trivandrum was the only developed city in Kerala. Indeed, even today it is the only major city with basic municipal facilities like piped water and sewerage. In terms of educational and knowledge institutions and urban infrastructure, it outranks everything else by a mile.

    Secondly, whereas plantiffs and defendants for High Court cases may come from any part of the State, the State Govt. is always one party and it is located in the Capital. This is why everywhere else, the respective High Courts are located in the State Capital. In Kerala, the curiosity of the Court located elsewhere happened only since the representatives of the erstwhile Cochin State clamoured for some sort of official presence in their town at the time of State Formation, after it became clear that they had no chance of becoming the State Capital.

    Now, onto the tax revenue claim, which is the favorite last resort of many a detractor of Trivandrum, when cornered with facts. Once the tax paid by PSU oil firms and others based in Kochi, whose actual revenues are from across Kerala, are deducted, the figures look very ordinary. In fact, a much better indicator of production is the District-wise Nett Domestic Product. The same is available at the State's Ecostat website, do check it out. You will find that Ernakulam leads Trivandrum by about 10% only, which is surprisingly low considering the concentration of heavy industries in the former.

    Finally, the number of apartment projects planned or built is a poor indicator of a city's vibrancy especially in an investor's market like Cochin where most flats are bought by NRIs as a nest egg. Go around at night and you will that all your towers are mostly dark, since occupancy is quite low.

    I have travelled far and wide across India and the world, and I work in the property development industry with the world's leading developer. So when I say all this, it is not without reason or understanding.

    As for Metro Rail, which has become the latest panacea after the abject failure of many other much-trumpeted projects, one needs to wait and see what transpires. If DMRC is having trouble breaking even in New Delhi which is a Metro of almost 20 million people, one needs to wonder at the sanity of a similar project in a tier-II city of just over 1.5 million. Especially, when Dr. Sreedharan himself has repeatedly gone on record stating that elevated railways are not feasible for cities with populations below 3 million. Guess he had an oversight of convenience here. I just hope that the people of Kerala will not be saddled with a white elephant which benefits few, at a time when the Treasury is quite bare.

    Maybe, the money saved by creating a High Court Bench in Trivandrum will help offset some of the damage from that!

    Cheers and thanks for your comment!

  4. Hi Ajay,
    good to see a quick reply that too within few minutes after I posted a commentand seems to be belligerent. Looks like you dont have any other job apart from typing the "glory" of Trivandrum . I am sure you are talking high about Trivandrum because you have property interest in Trivandrum. Mate , I have lot of property in Trivandrum (>10 acres land) and also in Kochi .Still I prefer Kochi. It is so much culturally and religiously diverse (Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews)and they all live in harmony which cannot the case in Trivandrum.I seriously doubt there is religious harmony and peaceful life in Trivandrum especially for Minority people.
    High court was set up in Kochi to be keep the political interefernce away from sanctum sanctorium of judial process which might occur when you have High court next to secretariat. If you look at the history , Kochi was supposed to have both capital and high court since it was centre of Kerala and had such a level of religious harmony. It is probably to hinder the interference in the judicial process that capital was "donated" to Trivandrum.That was probably a wrong decision in the hindsight. Look at the business establishment and developments in Kochi . It is 3 times bigger than Trivandrum. All the business sets it foot in Kochi first. For Eg. When I fly from Singapore to Kerala, there is a new airline called Tiger airways which only flies from Singapore to Kochi.Similarly all the business would first come to Kochi.According to Indicus Analytics survey Kochi is the best city to live in whole of India.

    And with regard to Metro Rail, why you talk so much negative .After all with your kind of skewed vision , you only want development in trivandrum.Kerala is not only Trivandrum.It comprises of many other cities like Kochi, Calicut etc.
    So dont be selfish , be a good malayalee.

  5. Lol, Xavier desperation breeds desperate reasoning doesn't it? You believe that the capital was setup in Trivandrum just so that the High Court in Cochin would not be interfered with by the Legislative and Executive Branches? Are you serious?!

    This is like saying if there is a garbage can next to your house, whose stink you cannot stand, you would move the house than the can! Hilarious logic indeed. Or maybe where you come from, such logic holds good?

    By that same logic, all the other High Courts and the Supreme Court should be located in small towns and not in the respective capital cities?

    As for the ulterior motives I am accused of having, let me assure you that I am no property baron. And anyways, I am sure, there are much better ways than a simple blog, to promote such interests.

    And as far as communal harmony is concerned, Trivandrum has an excellent record for a city of its size and social complexity. With many large establishments like Technopark, VSSC, Southern Air Command, Army and CRPF bases and central research institutes and offices, Trivandrum has a cosmopolitan community encompassing people from across India and the world.

    I agree that Kerala is not just about one city. I never said that, but credit and development needs to be given where it is deserved.

    Hope to hear from you soon, but with facts and not mumbo-jumbo. Cheers!

  6. Hello everyone

    As Xavier said, it would be nice to shift the capital from trivandrum to kochi, then most of the buldings in TVM will be emptied (including secretarite and Legislative complex), then there would be a fight btw big players (IT, tourism etc..) to buy those and much much big firms will come to the city..hey we don't want these politics any more here man..Also the problems of dharnas and other things will leave the city along with capital status thus becoming a quiet and nice place to live..and TVM will become the best place to live in INDIA...and what will happen in Kochi..ha ha..already she is congested..ok hope they find places in and around Kakkanadu but as there will be a heavy population flow happens, living there will be troublesome and hectic coz of lack of resources as water, power etc and finally the city becomes suffocated like calcutta etc....also the home of crime and gundas (even now), the most dangerous place to live in kerala, and think if politics also keep its roots there...then living there would be greatt..then again the flow will be to again there begins the flight and it goes on..nothing will change...ha ha ha..
    hey plz pray to shift capital to Kochi, den only they gonna realize and also TVM will be like heaven....


Thanks for your comment, I will take a look at it and put it up at the earliest.