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Smart City Kochi will be ready in three years, says CM Pinarayi Vijayan

In February,2016, the first phase was opened which has an area of 6.5 lakh sq feet and several companies have started operations

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Kochi Smart City project spread across 246 acres, was announced as an IT Special Economic Zone. Image source: The News Minute
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  • The Smart City Kochi project is being jointly developed by Dubai Smart City and the Kerala government
  • The chief minister also said that it will be completed in three years
  • In November 2005, the MoU of this project was inked under the then Chandy government

Kochi, June 23– Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday, said the Kochi Smart City project will be fully ready in three years. Vijayan’s party had boycotted the function when Kochi Smart City’s first phase was inaugurated in February this year, in 2016, after eleven years.

Then leader of opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, who was one of the high profile invitees, did not turn up. The CPI-M organised a protest meet and said that there has been a deviation from the original Kochi Smart City agreement.

Logo of Smart City Kochi. Image source: englishmatrubhumi.com
Logo of Smart City Kochi. Image source: englishmatrubhumi.com

However, on Thursday Vijayan, after meeting top officials of the project, which is being jointly developed by Dubai Smart City and the Kerala government, issued a statement that the project will be going forward as per the agreement.

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The chief minister also said that it will be completed in three years — the agreement that was inked with the previous Chandy government. “When completed, there will be one lakh jobs in the Kochi Smart City and the total area earmarked for IT operations will be 67 lakh sq ft and 21 lakh sq ft for non-IT needs,” said Vijayan.

Representational Image. Smart City Kochi. Image source: www.folomojo.com
Representational Image. Smart City Kochi. Image source: www.folomojo.com

In February,2016, the first phase was opened which has an area of 6.5 lakh sq feet and several companies have started operations. The CPI-M had ridiculed the then Chandy government that there is not a single IT company of repute that has opened.

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In November 2005, the MoU of this project was inked under the then Chandy government. And following the change in government, the framework agreement was signed in 2007 by the Achuthanandan government and it was taken forward again only in 2011 after the Chandy government assumed office. -IANS

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Joint ventures with Dubai are of great advantage. Dubai is a developed and a technological country. It has a lot to give us if we see it in that way.

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Did the hijack of flight IC-814 bring India to its knees?

The flight number IC-814 of the Indian Airlines, travelling from Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked mid-air.

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The ill-fated flight IC-814 was destined to fly from Kathmandu to Delhi
The ill-fated flight IC-814 was destined to fly from Kathmandu to Delhi

NEW DELHI: The Christmas Eve of 1999 doesn’t go well into the books of Indian history. The whole global community was hit with the hell of a jerk when the news of a plane hijack was set out by the Indian media channels. The flight number IC-814 of the Indian Airlines, travelling from Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked mid-air. At the time of the hijack, the airline was carrying 178 passengers and 11 crew members on board, after it took-off from the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.

This incident shattered the whole Indian Intelligence wing and questions were already raised on the credibility of R&AW agency. R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing) is the external intelligence unit of India and looks up for the foreign threat counts. But after the hijack of IC-814, every available resource was scrambled to contain the situation which was already out of hand.

Till date, there are a lot of unanswered questions as to why there was no show up of NSG commandos when the aircraft landed at Amritsar and the time was ripe enough to launch a counter-attack on the hijackers.

An article by a profound writer and columnist, Kanchan Gupta has rightly concluded in one of his articles on Kandahar hijack that India standout to be a nation of cowards. When it mattered the most, Indian people turned out in their true colours and let the nation down by surrendering in front of the hijackers.

Prime Minister Atal Beharai Vajpayee thoroughly counted every possible option at his disposal
Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee thoroughly checked all the possible options at his disposal

The initial impact

During this mishappening, NDA government was in the centre and till date is held responsible for such a huge goof-up. The then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in mid-air at the time of the hijack and from the time of the hijack incident, he was informed almost after two hours. The lag in the communication is blamed on the lack of satellite phones at that time.

The moment Vajpayee landed at the Palam Air Base, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra broke the news of plane hijack.

Vajpayee was taken aback by it and called for an emergency meeting with his security advisor and cabinet ministers. He also called off his birthday and Christmas celebrations, scheduled for that evening.

Later, the five hijackers were identified as Ibrahim Athar, Shahid Akhtar Sayed, Gulshan Iqbal, Sunny Ahmed Qazi, Mistri Zahoor Ibrahim, and Shakir. All of them were found to be the residents of Pakistan and belonged to a dreaded militant organization.

Hijacking ordeal

Just after few moments of the takeoff of flight IC-814, militants hijacked the plane and diverted it to Lahore airport but they were denied permission to land at the airport. Then they head towards Amritsar after realizing that the flight was running low on fuel. The Amritsar’s airport, Raja Sansi Airport was immediately alerted about the hijack and directed to prevent the plane from taking off after the planes landing.

The hijackers demanded the refueling of the plane but it was blatantly rejected by the Indian officials and the aircraft stayed there for another forty-five minutes. Soon hijackers got suspicious and expected a commando attack, so they stabbed a passenger and forced the flight to take off with an almost empty tank. Then the under pressure pilots took off from there and attempted another landing at Lahore airport, even after the denial of permission from Pakistan’s airport authority. But with sheer courage and skill, both the flight pilots of IC-814 landed the plane safely at the landing strip and parked it in the airport’s bay area.

After the refueling of the aircraft by the Pakistani authority, hijackers took off from there and flew to Dubai airport. Dubai officials permitted them to land there and in return, successfully negotiated the release of 13 women and 11 children. The next morning, the plane took off for Afghanistan and landed at Kandahar Airport, at that time which was under the direct control of the terrorist organization.

Demand for ransom

On holding their fort at Kandahar airport, the hijackers demanded the release of 36 terrorists held in Indian prisons in return for safe passage for the people onboard. After hours of herculean negotiations by the security officials, Indian government stumbled upon a deal with them and finally agreed to release three terrorists in exchange for all the hostages. The name of terrorist to be freed included Maulana Masood Azhar, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, and Ahmed Omar Sheikh.

Within no time, the paperwork was done in order to release the terrorists and they were flown to Kandahar airport.

Finally, after suffering of five stressful day, people were relieved from the captivity of the hijackers
Finally, after suffering for five stressful days, people were relieved from the captivity of the hijackers

Moment of sigh

After that, two aircrafts left for Kandahar airport and Indian officials made the exchange. On the evening of 31st December, hostages of flight IC-814 were flown back to Delhi and a sense of relief prevailed in the Indian government and its people. But, soon the NDA government came under intense fire from various political parties.

Following this incident, India didn’t take much time to learn from this blunder and till date, it is made sure that nothing sort of that magnitude occurs ever. Although, there are still many unresolved mysteries going around in the minds of the people, but no one is up to take the responsibility for such a gaffe. Even the presence of an R&AW agent in the hijacked plane is a matter of contention. Reports suggest that R&AW officials were tipped prior to the hijack but were rashly rebuffed.

Irrespective of all the fuss, the unchallenged credit goes to the people involved in this whole incident and we salute to the bravery and courage put up by the flight pilots and the people on board.