Skip to main content

GIFT: Finance city director suggests market realities "ignored" while initiating Modi's dream project

RK Jha, director, GIFT
By Our Representative
Is the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s top dream project – Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT) -- all set to be scaled down?  Proposed as India’s premier financial hub for more than Rs 78,000 crore, questions began asked about its viability ever since it was first announced in 2007. If earlier only bureaucrats in the state capital Gandhinagar doubted it would be anything more than a real estate hub, now it transpires that the man who promised to make GIFT a big success has questioned its viability.
In what may prove to be major embarrassment of those seeking to promote Modi’s developmental image, GIFT director RK Jha, who had promised Modi to turning GIFT something like Singapore's or Shanghai's financial hub, has been quoted as saying that the plan to have GIFT “ignored market conditions”.
In a recent news article, The New York Times (NYT) has said, “RK Jha, director of the project since 2010, said it (GIFT) needed to be radically scaled down, and reduced the first phase of construction to two 29-story office buildings, the tallest structures in Gujarat.”
Pointing towards the plight of GIFT as of today, NYT has said, “So far, there are only four tenants, including the state electricity commission (Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission or GERC) and the development company behind the project (Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services or IL&FS).”
Citing it an example of how Modi tries to build dream among people without seeking to answer the question whether it would be realized, NYT says, “One case study can be found around seven miles from the airport in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat, where two modern office buildings stand in the middle of a dry, empty field.”
“This GIFT City intended as an international finance centre. The project was introduced to fanfare in 2007, after Modi was inspired on a visit to Shanghai”, the NYT article, written by Ellen Barry, under the title “Policies Help an Indian Candidate Trying to Go National” (May 6), says, adding, “The initial plans, drawn up by a Chinese design institute, were grandiose, calling for the simultaneous construction of 125 glassy skyscrapers, the highest reaching 1,000 feet, with underground roadways and midair pedestrian bridges.”
It is not without reason that, nearly two years ago, Gujarat babus had sensed that GIFT would be a non-starter. A high-level meeting of state secretaries (click HERE to read) sharply criticized the GIFT project, following a presentation by Jha on how he proposed to turn it into a financial hub. They told Jha that GIFT's priorities had all gone awry. State bureaucrats particularly wondered what did GERC, whose job is to decide on fixing tariffs for different segments of consumers, had anything to do with a finance city.
Babus questioned the decision to shift the GERC office to the new GIFT site following an agreement, which finalized to sell GERC a 29,000 sq-feet floor space on the sixth floor of one of the two 29-storey towers. "There is a huge gap between what GIFT was visualized and what you are presenting it to us. Do you want GIFT to be a conglomerate of different types of offices? What would GERC do there? And, why do you want nationalized banks to open offices when it should be a hub for metal trading, stock trading, hedging and private sector insurance and banking?," they wondered.
About half-a-dozen top bureaucrats, including the then additional chief secretary (ACS) planning Varun Maira, the then ACS home and general administration Varesh Sinha, the then principal secretary, forests and environment, S K Nanda, principal secretary, and energy and petrochemicals D Jagatheesa Pandian, asked the GIFT director to work out priorities.
One of them told Jha, "You seem to have come here to sell GIFT to government-run corporations. First the PSUs were asked to contribute their corporate social responsibility funds for the world's proposed tallest building, Sardar Statue, overlooking the Narmada dam. Then it was the turn of Metro-link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad to demand money from PSUs. Now it is GIFT which wants PSUs to buy up office space. What's going on? When will everyone stop pulling PSUs in different directions like this?"
The babus were also unimpressed when the presentation which said that the height of the buildings in GIFT will reach up to 150 storeys when the international airport is shifted from Ahmedabad to Dholera, about 100 kilometres away. "You can't talk in just ifs and buts," said one official. On the issue of having a huge exhibition complex in GIFT, a second official wondered if this is its core activity.” On the issue of having call centres and IT firms in GIFT, another official wondered, "What is the difference between GIFT and the Infocity?" 

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Did Netaji turn blind eye to Japanese massacre while in Andaman during World War-II?

Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani museum off Chandigarh By Rajiv Shah  Did Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ignore the massacre carried out by the Japanese army in Andaman and Nicobar islands during the Second World War? It would seem so, if one goes by the account of Mohinder Singh Dhillon, who authored a book in memory of his father, 'A Titan in the Andamans, Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani'. Dr Diwan Singh was tortured to death by the Japanese soldiers in the cellular jail in Andaman in 1944.

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Modi's Gujarat 'ignores' India's biggest donor of Azad Hind Fauj, Dhoraji's Habib Sheth

By Dr Hari Desai* One surely feels happy that the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is being installed near the India Gate in New Delhi. Every Indian and even Netaji’s 79-year-old daughter Prof Anita Bose Pfaff feels happy about the statue at the most important area of the capital. In an interview with an Indian TV, Anita, who is a German citizen, mentions that she thinks if not Netaji’s only Mahatma Gandhi’s statue should have been there. She may be aware that there existed a plan to install life-sized statue of the Father of the Nation at that place.  Even after differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel which led Netaji to leave the Indian National Congress, Bose was the first person to call Mahtma Gandhi Father of the Nation on July 6,1944 in his Ragoon Radio broadcast, and sought Bapu’s blessings as the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army (INA). Till 1968 there was statue of King George V at India Gate. It was removed and placed in the Coronation Park, New Del

Is it time to celebrate India's 'improved' sex ratio? Reasons to question NFHS data

By Aditi Chaudhary*  The recently published National Family Health Survey (NFHS) factsheet brought cheers amongst the public and the government. With Child Sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males in the age group 0 - 6 years) and overall sex ratio (the total number of females per 1000 males), both showing an improvement, NFHS-5 (2019-21) got applauded by all around.

Stop harassment, release Kashmir rights defender Khurram Parvez: Global NGO

By Our Representative  Ahead of his hearing on January 21, 2022, CIVICUS , a global civil society alliance with more than 10,000 members worldwide, has called upon the Government of India to “immediately and unconditionally” release human rights defender Khurram Parvez. “The judicial harassment he is facing highlights the repressive environment for activists and critics in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir”, it said in a statement.