Divergent stands taken by two Gandhian organisations have complicated the handing over Gandhi Bhavan’s land for Kochi Metro.
Gandhi Bhavan Committee, which owns 22 cents of land and a multi-storied building at Kacheripady, wants the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) to fully take over the premises since metro will cut through the centre of the building. On its part, the Gandhi Peace Foundation that has an office on the premises wants only eight cents of land to be taken over. They have been organising protests against surrendering the entire land.
KMRL wants to go ahead with land acquisition to avoid delay in constructing metro’s viaduct through Banerjee Road and MG Road. “The Committee has handed over the building’s keys and wants the whole land to be taken over. We are open to taking over the full land since it is in keeping with State Government’s land acquisition policy (which advocates taking over the whole of a property if a major chunk of land is acquired, following which the remaining land falls to disuse). Along with District Administration, we will take a call on this issue in the coming days,” said the agency’s MD Elias George.
The District Administration handed over compensation worth around Rs. 1 crore to Gandhi Bhavan Committee on Thursday. “We chose to hand it over to the body since Gandhi Peace Foundation was unable to secure a favourable court order on ownership of the premises,” said a senior Revenue official.
Executive committee member of the Gandhi Bhavan Committee M.R. Rajendran Nair said the State Government assigned the land to it in 1978, following which Gandhi Bhavan was built by availing loan and through public contributions. “Following differences, the Foundation approached the District Administration against handing over metro’s compensation to the Committee. But their contention did not have takers.”
Mr. Nair said: “The issue can be settled fast and amicably if the general body members of both the organisations have a combined sitting. Our stand is that the government take over the full land and provide us with more extensive alternative land in another locality within the city where we could begin a social service centre. This is because we will be left with little frontage once the Metro Rail comes up”.
Former Judge of the Kerala High Court and present executive committee member the Foundation P.K. Shamsuddin said land was allotted to it first. “The Gandhi Bhavan Committee was formed for constructing the building. The building is in their name but was built for us. We are against surrendering whole of the land,” he said.