The Centre has given a formal approval to sponsor the ambitious Rs 78,000-crore Gujarat International Finance Tech-City (GIFT) project which is being developed as the country’s first smart city near Gandhinagar.
This approval will now make the GIFT project eligible for funding from central government and will also help in faster clearances, said a senior official associated with the project.
“Earlier, we didn’t have a forum. We used to face a lot of difficulties in getting the necessary funds and clearances from the Centre. But now the Centre has approved to sponsor the project. This means that the government will be considering GIFT as a smart city, and the project will qualify for funding under different government schemes,” said R K Jha, director of Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Ltd, which is a joint venture between state-run Gujarat Urban Development Company Ltd (GUDCL) and a private firm Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS).
However, Jha did not disclose the quantum of funds that the company was eyeing from the Centre for the project which has already achieved financial closure of Rs 1,157 crore for the Phase-I on May 20, 2014. The total estimated cost of Phase-I of the project is Rs 1,818 crore.
“The Centre will also form a coordination committee which will be iron out the bottlenecks facing the project. This committee which will be formed in the next one month will possibly be headed by secretary of Union Ministry of Urban Development,” he told The Indian Express.
“This committee is expected to be on the lines of an existing empowered committee formed by the Gujarat government to sort out issues related to the project at the state-level,” Jha added.
The project is facing a number of bottlenecks including the framing of rules required for a International Financial Services Centre (IFSC). The project which was one of the pet projects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conceptualised as a cheaper but world-class alternative to similar financial service centres in Mumbai, London and Tokyo.
GIFT is also seeking height clearances of 300 meters to build taller structures within the . “Currently we are closer to the international airport and are being allowed to build structures with 30 floors (or 120 meters). We have been asking the Centre for a clearance of 300 meters,” Jha added.