Plan submitted to Mulavukad panchayat shows apartments were not part of the hotel project

The Bolgatty island land controversy is getting murkier.

The Hindu has learnt that the proposed “service” apartments are no appendage to any hotel project and that they have been clearly defined as residential units by the promoters themselves. So far, the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) had defended the undervaluation of land at the Bolgatty island and possible breach of contract by the LuLu group, claiming that the land would be used solely for commercial activities. But The Hindu is in possession of documents that prove that the group was actually seeking to build residential units, distinctly different from the hotel and the convention centre and their allied structures.

CPT Chairman Paul Antony, in a widely televised press conference on Tuesday, had slammed the media for “confusing” serviced apartments with residential units and had claimed the LuLu group’s proposal to build 572 “service” apartments was part of its hotel project. He termed these apartments as the hotel’s allied structures.

In the case of valuation of property, Mr. Antony insisted that the land was valued at just Rs 2.1 crore an acre or Rs 2.1 lakh per cent because, unlike other Marine Drive projects in the neighbourhood, this piece of land at Bolgatty island was not meant for residential units. The upfront payment for 26 acres of Bolgatty land was fixed at Rs 71.3 crore on the basis of a valuation that pegged the cost of land at just Rs 2.1 lakh per cent. The State government had recently paid Rs 50 lakh per cent at MG Road.

Now, it is being revealed that the LuLu group had actually sought permission to build residential units, which were not part of the hotel. In its application to the Mulavukadu panchayat, seeking permission to begin construction work at the leased land at Bolgatty, the LuLu group clearly mentioned the nature of apartments as “multi-family residential” with 416 dwelling units. Though the term “service apartments” was mentioned in brackets, the occupancy category under which the permission was sought by the LuLu group leaves no doubt at all: “Residential Group A1”. Under this category, the applicant also has to state the number of dwelling units proposed to be built. And LuLu answered it by stating that they are planning to build “416 dwelling units”.

The application has another category, “Non-residential/others”. It is under this category that the LuLu…

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