Sunday, January 10, 2010

Adieu 2009

The best way to describe the year 2009 is annus horribilis, the meaning of which is quite evident even without a latin lexicon. A bad year for everyone, you, me and Trivandrum. So the round-up of the year won't be pretty either, perhaps that's why I have been delaying it so far. Well, nothing to do but bite the bullet and look ahead to better times.

As usual, let me follow the same order as the curtain-raiser article that I had written in February 2009. 

1.  Terminal 3 of the Trivandrum International Airport should be open for passengers by the middle of the year. 

Terminal 3 of the Trivandrum International Airport did get completed in 2009 but the sprawling, world-class 330,000 sq.ft. Terminal could not be commissioned because its access road was not finished this year. Thanks to KITCO, which also played a part in derailing land acquisition for the Vizhinjam project. But for all means and purposes, T3 is ready to welcome passengers. 

2. Air India's Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul base, in association with Boeing, should also open its giant doors for the first aircraft at the same time 

Air India's MRO has achieved completion and awaits connection to the main runway. Air India had a turbulent year which included strikes and goof-ups galore but the airline has persevered, with the help of Government hand-outs, and now plans to set up an independent MRO business as well as make Trivandrum an operational hub.

3. A couple of months earlier, Infosys Technologies will unveil the first phase of its giant, architecturally-stunning campus at Technopark.

Software Development Block 1 of Infosys Technologies' Trivandrum campus is operational, albeit with a soft-launch and construction is well advanced on SDB 2.

4. Construction work on the first component of the 2.5 million sq.ft. Technopark Phase III should kick off in the latter half of the year

L&T have been appointed the contractors for the first 1 million sq.ft building in Phase III and work has commenced.

5.The current negotiations between Technopark and a number of major developers for the development of Technocity will result in at least one parcel being taken up for development in the latter half of the year.

This one drew a total blank with the real estate industry across India and the world having its worst year in a decade and even ongoing projects getting scrapped. However, there has been a rekindling of interest with discussions in progress with several leading Indian and international developers. About 190 acres of land is with the Government, of which 50-odd have already received SEZ clearance. In the last week of 2009, the Cabinet also cleared the compensation and rehabilitation package for the take-over of the remaining 250 acres of land.  

6. The judicial hurdle in front of the $ 2 billion Vizhinjam Deep-water Container Transshipment Terminal should have been overcome in the early part of the year.

How wrong could I have been on this one but then no one expected a rogue company, a bunch of politicians and a media circle with vested interests to overcome the aspirations of the people of Kerala? But, sadly, that is precisely what happened with a combination of protracted legal wrangles and media hysteria driving the selected developer off.

However, towards the end of the year, the project has risen from its ashes, with the appointment of IFC as its new project advisor and the launch of a new website and project office, as the first stages of a development initiative worth over Rs 450 Crore which will see the State and Central Govt.s create all the supporting infrastructure for the project in parallel with a new bid process.

7. Work on various JNNURM projects including water and sewerage systems and the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) will be in progress by the end of the year while TCRIP work should be well-advanced.

Work is in progress on some components of the JNNURM project. Most notably the first Volvo city buses hit the road in Trivandrum. The BRTS project received administrative sanction and is in development. TCRIP work has picked up with the appointment of the VHK consortium as primary sub-contractors. Work is in progress on half-a-dozen corridors and the Bakery Junction flyover is nearing completion. 

8. Despite the slowdown in the property-development sector, 2009 will see a flurry of residential developments and townships from major developers.

The story of real-estate in 2009 does not need to told again but Trivandrum was one of the few major cities in India where the industry did not grind to a halt or see major rate cuts when even metros like Delhi and Mumbai saw 20-30% rate corrections, not to mention the bursting of the bubble at our sister city - spurred by the evident collapse of a few, much-hyped projects.

Trivandrum's real estate industry kept on announcing new projects during 2009, although at a slower rate than 2008. These included landmark buildings like the towering 38-floor Heera Dreams at Aakulam which sent ripples through the industry in South India with its audacity. While mall projects generally experienced paralysis, the projects by Nikunjam and Trinity made progress. A few others are in the pipeline, including a couple of rejuvenated ones. Stay tuned for more updates on these.

9. As pointed out by my friend Scorpio, the temporary campuses of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IISST) and the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) opened in 2009, at Thumba and CET respectively. Work on the IISST's campuses at Valiyamala and Ponmudi is well underway while development of the IISER's even more ambitious 250 acre campus at Vithura has started. 2009 also saw the continuing successes of India's top space science lab, the VSSC, as it took us to the Moon, further cementing Trivandrum's status as a knowledge hub.

Thus ended 2009, mostly with disappointments galore but with a few rays of hope peeking through the dark clouds which have finally started to dispel. The ultimate year of this decade may see the resurgence of development but that is another story, another post.

In the meantime, stay tuned for the recap of TDF's activities to promote Trivandrum across the stormy days of 2009. 

1 comment:

  1. Its clear that 2010 can only be better given the fact that the last of the naughties have torn the knickers of every Tom, Dick n Harry in the WORLD.

    I'd add on the opening of IIST and the progress of IISER to the list, being mammoth projects of a very important nature themselves. I missed them myself at the round-up I did back at my page ;)

    Good year to you Ajay, for your career and for all your endeavours. :-)


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