Skip to main content

Gujarat's GIFT project falters: Airport authority's 5-year NOC to 35 towers "expires", only two built

The "proposed" GIFT smart city
By Our Representative
A fresh document, obtained by a Gujarat-based right to information (RTI) activist, Roshan Shah on October 8, has revealed how very slow is the progress in implementing the pet "smart city" project floated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s when he was Gujarat chief minister – Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT). Envisaged in 2007, there are just two towers in the GIFT premises, one of which has partially started functioning.
The document reveals that the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had granted no-objection certificate (NOC) to GIFT’s 35 towers for five years as on May 21, 2010. While the five-year period has expired, the AAI reply suggests, so far it has not received any fresh applications for renewing NOC of building heights on behalf of GIFT.
The May 21, 2010 NOC, granted to 35 buildings, each of them having the “permissible top elevation” of anywhere between 175.6 metres and 191 metres above mean sea level (MAMSL), had said that the “certificate is valid for a period of five years from the date of issue”, and if “the building structure/chimney is not constructed and completed” in the five years, “it will be required to obtain fresh NOC from chairman, AAI.”
The distance between the Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport and the GIFT city is 18.5 kilmetres on a straight road, one reason why NOC needed to be taken. Now being tom-tommed as a smart city, off Gandhinagar, of the 35 towers for which NOC was obtained, just two have so far come up.
An earlier RTI plea by Shah, seeking to know as to which MNCs have so far booked space in GIFT City, how much of square feet of space had been  booked, how much token amount for booking of the space had been paid, and when would the MNCs start their operations, was summarily rejected.
Dated July 16, 2015, the rejection letter said, the GIFT SEZ Ltd is "duly incorporated under the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956", and is therefore "not a public authority" under the provisions of the RTI Act, and therefore provisions of the RTI are "not applicable to GIFT SEZ Ltd, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the GIFT Company Ltd. 
A document of the Gujarat government, which is a partner in the GIFT project alongside Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), says that there will be two “landmark buildings” in the GIFT premises with a height above 350 metres, 19 buildings with a height between 150 metres and to 300 metres, and 73 buildings with a height between 100 metres and 140 metres.
A GIFT document claiming itself as the best international destination
While critics have long doubted viability of GIFT, with founder of India’s telecom revolution Sam Pitroda predicting that it might turn out to be “real estate haven”, a top GIFT document claims that, in terms of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the project is more viable than those already implemented in New York, London, Shanghai, Paris, Singapore and Tokyo.
Those who have been to GIFT to have an overview have noticed that there are “scarcely 20 cars in the car park”, and the “the busiest floor in Tower 1 turned out to be exactly like large offices in Mumbai or New Delhi on a public holiday, i.e. employees were few and far between”, and “tenants include Bank of Baroda, Syndicate Bank and ncode, which offers data services security.”
One of the “advantages” being cited for GIFT is not only its “plush architectural model of a smart city”, but visitors notice that GIFT has “no restaurants”, and “in a state where alcohol cannot be consumed without a medical or a special tourist permit, no bars.”
“What it offers is low rents”, it is pointed out, adding, “But, as Sebastian Morris, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad points out, ‘Financial services can afford very high rents.’ Indeed, New York, London and Hong Kong have among the highest office rents in the world, but that does not deter them from being the premier financial centres they are.”
Meanwhile, reports say that GIFT, whose just-completed second tower was to be the pioneer of making India to become a “global” reinsurance hub, might not be offered any tax incentives to the insurers and reinsurers setting up offices in the area. Already, large companies such as General Insurance Corporation of India, have presence at GIFT City. Some private insurers have also expressed interest to set up offices there.
“We have been told separate tax incentives will not be provided for setting up offices in GIFT City. This could be a dampener for many Indian insurers and foreign reinsurers to set up presence here,” said a senior industries department official has been quoted as saying.

Comments

EdwardLoftis said…
Good post...

TRENDING

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.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

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.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen