Few takers for Modi’s grand GIFT
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Some banks have finally stepped into the ambitious Rs 78,000-crore Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) project that was promoted by Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a top-notch global financial centre to rival those in London, Tokyo, Paris and Shanghai.
However, the project conceived in 2007 is still grappling to attract interest from domestic and international firms operating in the banking and financial services sector.
Almost a year has passed since the 110 high-rise towers project was launched, but 70 per cent of it still has no takers. "We are struggling," is how a top official of the GIFT summed up when asked about the progress of the project that promises to create six lakh new jobs by 2020.
"We have been able to lease out about 2 lakh square feet of space. Some banks have stepped in. This includes a branch office of Syndicate Bank (5,000 square feet) and Bank of India (29,000 square feet)," said Ramakant Jha, managing director of GIFT Company Ltd (GIFTCL), talking about leasing out portions of the 7 lakh square feet of space in the first high-rise building - christened as GIFT ONE - that was marketed as the tallest tower in Gujarat when it was inaugurated in January 2013 by Modi.
The imposing structure with 28 floors, stretches 122 metres into the sky and stands on 886 acres of land of the project that mostly lies bare. Today its only attraction is to get the highest viewing gallery to take pictures of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, and the Sabarmati river on whose banks the project stands.
The other attraction is the "imported" fountain on the ground-floor where a running sheet of water carves out words and images. People are seen taking pictures in its backdrop.
Now, the second tower in the immediate vicinity is ready, but yet to be launched. However, this tower does not have a single taker yet. "We are in discussions with a few large corporate companies who might take the entire tower at one go," said Jha, who describes himself as the developer, municipal body and the urban development authority of the project.