Parliamentary panel to seek Ministry’s views on land deal

Staff Reporter
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Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture Sitaram Yechury said here on Thursday that the committee had received a representation from a section of the employees of the Cochin Port Trust regarding the land lease deal between the Port Trust and the LuLu group of companies.

It may be recalled that in 2003, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, then chaired by Dipankar Mukherjee had looked into the sale of the government-owned Centaur Hotel property in Mumbai and recommended investigations by the Central Vigilance Commission into the deal.

The representation will be sent to the Union Shipping Ministry for its comments, Mr. Yechury said at a press conference here at the Cochin shipyard. He did not elaborate on the nature of the representation or on the controversy surrounding the land deal and confined himself to saying that he was familiar with the media reports on the development.

Recent reports in The Hindu raised apprehensions about undervaluation of 26 acres of land on Bolgatty island, which the LuLu group took on a 30-year renewable lease and possible breach of contract over the building of 572 “service’’ apartments without keeping the port trust in the know.

President of Cochin Port Labour Union M.M. Lawrence submitted a representation to Mr. Yechury early this week demanding that the Port Trust should immediately take back the land that had been leased to the LuLu group of companies.

Mr. Lawrence said in the representation that the long-term lease of port land was not appropriate and he wanted the parliamentary committee to look into the deal. He said that the LuLu group was a business entity that would try to further its commercial interests but the Port Trust should have been more careful in preventing such a mistake.

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