DLF, India’s largest realty company , is gearing up to revive its dormant IT SEZ project at Taramani, Chennai. The company originally bagged the project through a global tender floated by state-owned Tidco in 2006-07 and paid the government around Rs 750 crore for the 26.25 acre prime land parcel, located next to the American International School on the Velachery-Taramani Road.
It now intends to invest an additional `1,000 crore for developing the 2.5 million sq ft IT SEZ space, after getting all required approvals. The construction is expected to start in the next three months.
“For nearly a decade, it was kept in the back burner.There was neither development nor employment generation. Over and above, there was a huge holding cost for the company by way of interest charges for the money paid to the state nearly a decade ago,” official sources in the Tamil Nadu government said.
“We are reviving the project and construction work will start soon,” Rajeev Talwar, CEO, DLF Ltd told TOI. He declined to elaborate further. Though the company acquired the land almost a decade ago, it could not get the approval for developing an IT SEZ from the Union Government, since the land parcel was not contiguous and an MRTS railway track was passing through it. The global financial meltdown in late 2008 and DLF’s own piling debts too added to its woes.
The company even wrote to the Tamil Nadu government about its inability to proceed with the project citing the `non-contiguity’ of the land parcel and wanted the state to return the money paid for the land.
The state government, however, preferred not to react to the company’s plea.Meanwhile, the Union government had altered the rules for promoting IT SEZs, with the minimum land requirement being brought down to five acres.
On its part, DLF too lightened its overburden by clearing some of the debts through sale of assets.
“With the change in SEZ rules and growing demand for IT SEZ space, we are now moving to get all the required approvals, including environment clearance for going ahead with the original planned development of 2.5 million sq ft space. Overall, our commitment for the project, including the land and related holding charges, will come to ` 2,000 crore,” said a DLF official, on condition of anonymity.
He said work would start in about three months. “The building has to be ready and occupants too have to move in by 2020 in order to get the SEZ benefits. As a developer, we may not be eligible for all those benefits, but the companies occupying the space will,” the official added.