Even as an all-party meeting is scheduled on November 12 to discuss the issue of an out-of-court settlement on the Kovalam Halcyon Castle issue, the government has signalled its readiness to lease out a property adjoining the castle to a business group for the construction of an international convention centre.

A government note intended for circulation at the all-party meeting says that the government favours a settlement which makes clear the position that the castle and the surrounding property would be under the full ownership of the government and that these would remain with the government.

Rights over land

The government land adjoining this may be given on lease to M/s R.P. Group, which has brought the adjacent Hotel Leela, for tourism development purposes by fully meeting the conditions laid down by the Revenue Department and by making it clear that the rights over the leased land shall fully vest with the government, the note recommends.

The government has already taken an interim decision to this effect. This interim decision has been welcomed by the R.P. group, which has made known to the government that an out-of-court settlement can be reached at the earliest. The group has also asked that the land be given to them on a 99-year lease and that the lease amount should be nominal given that there is a reduction in the arrival of foreign tourists and an increase in power tariffs, the note says.

A meeting on April 4, 2012 of the Cabinet subcommittee formed for suggesting ways to resolve the castle issue felt that the proposals submitted by the R.P. Group are worth considering and that a final decision on the matter should be taken at an all-party meeting. The fact that it is better to go in for a solution which does not question the government’s ownership of the castle and the property so that the message that Kerala is investor-friendly can be reached to investors should also be considered, the note reads.