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

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

Lynching as state terror? Complete dearth of 'political will' to deal with mob violence

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On Friday July 5, thousands of people had gathered at a rally in Surat to protest against the growing mob lynching incidents in different parts of the country. There are different interpretations at what happened during the rally: with police blaming the rallyists and those in the rally blaming the police for using teargas shells upon them without any reason.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

One lakh schools closed down, draft policy 'seeks' commercialisation: Whither RTE?

By Our Representative
A national consultation on the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) with senior experts, teachers’ association representatives and other stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi on July 11, organised by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has expressed serious concern over curtailment in the budgeted expenditure on education year after year, even as closure of more than one lakh schools over the "last few years."

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

UN report notes 'suppression' of Kashmiri independence groups in Pakistan

By Our Representative
A top United Nations (UN) body has suggested that the intense fervour of Kashmiri nationalism isn’t just sweeping the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state but is equally strong in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), pointing towards how the Pak authorities have been seeking to suppress it by placing restrictions on rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, assembly and association on every section of PoK’s population.

Satellite data 'identify' Gujarat's Mundra among 6 of India's top air pollution hotspots

By Rajiv Shah
A fresh study, which analyzes data between February 2018 and May 2019, obtained from Tropomi, a satellite instrument on board the Dutch Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite, has warned that coal-fired power plants and industrial clusters are India’s “worst nitrogen oxides (NOx) hotspots” contributing hugely to air pollution in Sonbhadra-Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Korba in Chhattisgarh, Talcher in Odisha, Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Mundra in Gujarat and Durgapur in West Bengal.

Campaign 'victory': Bihar considers ban on asbestos, carcinogenic to humans

Counterview Desk
In a major victory for anti-asbestos campaigners, the Bihar government has said that it is considering an immediate ban on use of asbestos&based products of all kinds in the state. Speaking in the state assembly, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar insisted on the need to taking a strong policy decision against carcinogenic asbestos factories.
A communication, meanwhile, has been forwarded  to the health secretary by Kumar, referring to concerns of Dr Gopal Krishna, who heads the Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) "on hazardous asbestos factories to the health department." Krishna said that the health department should looking into the demand for the creation of a register of victims of asbestos related diseases.
He added, the government should also create a register asbestos laden buildings and products in general and a probe on the health status of workers, their families and communities linked to and in proximity of the two units of asbestos factories…