Work on international convention centre and allied facilities to begin in three months
The LuLu Group has decided to go ahead with its ambitious Bolgatty Convention Centre project in Kochi.
Speaking at a discussion on ‘Contemporary politics and development of Kerala’ organised by the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club here on Saturday, prominent Gulf-based businessman and LuLu Group chairman M.A. Yusuff Ali said the work would begin in three months.
The initial processes were over. Mr. Ali, who had offered to withdraw from the project after certain questions came up over the deal, said all political parties in the State had supported him in the matter. He had decided to go ahead since this was one of his dream projects.
He had no eye on profits. It was towards the end of the meeting here that he announced that his conscience would not allow him to back out, and that he would go ahead with the project.Stating that he had all along been an advocate of the investor-friendly atmosphere in Kerala and an unofficial business ambassador of the State, Mr. Ali said the terms and conditions of the Bolgatty project, for which 28 acres were taken on lease for 30 years through a bidding process, were transparent. The deal was also cleared by the Kerala High Court. Everything was done as per the law of the land, he said. The agreement with the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) was signed three years ago.The project, Mr. Ali said, was presented before the local Mulavukadu panchayat, its members, the local legislator, and everything was explained in detail: there were no issues then.
The project envisages an international convention centre with a seating capacity of 4,000-6,000, where ‘‘SAARC summits or even the Oscar awards function could be held.’’ A five-star hotel would come up alongside, with suites for heads of state. Asked whether the apartments to be constructed as part of the project would be residential units or part of the convention centre and hotel, Mr. Ali reiterated that these are to be ‘service apartments’ and ‘essentially an extension of the hotel.’ Some misunderstanding had arisen because the term ‘service apartment’ was not included in the Kerala Building Code.
In any case, nobody would come forward to buy a flat or apartment constructed on land that is taken for a 30-year lease period, he said. The apartments were intended for families of persons who came to attend conventions or meetings and for short stays during such events. He was ‘not a real estate dealer.
’"I have been paying Rs.3 crore annually for the last three years as rent to the CPT and I have acted as per the law of the land," Mr. Ali said. He said the controversy would not affect investment prospects of the State. Even if he were to withdraw, he would not have withdrawn from his ‘‘duty of convincing the world that this is God’s Own Country with an investor-friendly atmosphere.’’ Mr Ali had played a key role in bringing back on the rails the SmartCity project in Kochi after it faced initial hiccups.