Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Monday that only part of the premises surrounding the Halcyon castle was proposed to be leased out to the RP group of companies and the proposal would be subject to deliberations at an all-party meeting to be convened by the government. It would also be subject to the RP group accepting government ownership of the castle and the entire land (4.13 acres) surrounding it.
Addressing a press conference here, the Chief Minister said that proposal had been mooted by an official committee appointed by the previous government and approved by the then Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. However, the then Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan had taken the stand that the proposal need be pursued only after the Court gave its verdict on the case filed by the RP group challenging government take over of the castle and land.
The government had since lost the case though it was sure of winning the case on appeal. On appeal, the High Court had ordered maintenance of status quo until the case is disposed off. The present government decided consider early settlement of the issue as the castle had been idling for seven years. An official committee headed by the Chief Secretary had gone into the matter and put up the proposals. The RP group had expressed willingness for a settlement conceding the ownership of the castle and land in dispute. Part of the land, including land on which some buildings of the former hotel purchased by the RP group stands, was proposed to be leased to the group to facilitate smooth functioning of the hotel.
Mr. Chandy recalled that it was the previous UDF government headed by him which had ordered the take over the castle and appurtenant land. An all-party meeting had been convened then to decide the course of action. When the court annulled the order, a law for take over the property was enacted. However, the Act too was struck down by court. The government proposed to convene an all-party meeting to decide on the proposal for settlement because the take over the property was based on decision of an all-party meeting.
He said that reports that the Cabinet had considered the matter outside the agenda was wrong. It had discussed the matter a few times before. The deliberations were continuation of the process initiated by the previous government.