Fresh trouble brewing at Smart City-Kochi

Vijay Nanda launches cleanliness campaign in Amritsar

KOCHI: SmartCity-Kochi Infrastructure, the IT special economic zone at Kakkanad, which was embroiled in a dispute with Bengaluru-based project management consultant Synergy Property Development Services recently, is in the midst of another row now. A volley of complaints has emerged from companies at SEZ on the lack of basic infrastructure for the employees.Frustrated with the lack of response from the SmartCity-Kochi management, a group of four companies has written to Manoj Nair, CEO of SmartCity-Kochi Infrastructure, on the ‘ordeals’ they are facing.

“Instead of providing us with a cordial environment to run our business, we are being treated like an alien. The disparage we had to face from SmartCity officers and employees is on the rise,” the letter, a copy of which is with Express, said.SmartCity-Kochi, an 84:16 joint venture between Dubai Holding and the Kerala government, is spread over 246 acres at Kakkanad. But it has only one complex till now having one lakh sq ft space. There are around 15-18 companies functioning there, the biggest being Bakers & Hughes, a General Electric (GE) company.

Last year, Synergy Property Development Services had dragged SmartCity-Kochi to National Company Law Board Appellate Tribunal over a default in payment, which was later settled out of court. “As a legal tenant of SmartCity, the units are entitled to minimum facilities so their primary aim of running the business is met. Since ours is a manpower-centric service industry, it is of paramount importance we give proper care and comfort to our employees,” the letter said, adding units which started operations earlier had undergone severe ordeals such as “suffering from dust and noise, working without AC, unavailability of food court, etc.”

List of grievance in the 5-page letter
Air Conditioning: Due to construction work at SmartCity, many companies had the worst experience of severe dust being sucked into the office through AC vents. After several complaints in April 2017, SmartCity assigned property consultancy CBRE to inspect AC units and the company said the ACs installed by the companies were faulty. But, an independent inspection done by the companies showed ACs at SmartCity’s end were faulty. The issue was settled in August 2017 after carrying out repairs.
Non-availability of toilets: Units which started operations in early 2016 had to face hardship due to non-availability of toilets in the vicinity of their offices. Many companies refrained from inviting overseas clients because of this.

Food Court: Till now, there are no facilities for a food court. A proper food provider has also not been assigned by SmartCity. The letter also lists out issues such as poorly maintained premises; disturbances due to construction work and dust; no proper potable water facility and others.