Party wants to sidestep Bolgatty land deal, says environmentalist
Critics are questioning why the CPI(M), which was heading the city’s local bodies and the State government, is raking up the building rule violations by Lulu Mall long after its construction. Senior CPI(M) leader and Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthananthan was present for the mall’s inauguration.
CPI(M) district secretary C.M. Dinesh Mani and P. Rajeev, MP, on Wednesday came out against the violations by the group at Edappally. They alleged that the mall was constructed without leaving the mandatory clearance from the banks of the Edappally canal and in violation of the provisions of building rules.
Environmentalist C.R. Neelakandan said that the long silence maintained by the CPI(M) over Lulu Mall all through its construction phase was intriguing.
“Several complaints were raised against the structure during its construction phase. Complaints were also filed before the local bodies concerned. Mr. Mani had been a permanent presence in the city for long. He had also served as the Mayor of Kochi earlier. The CPI (M) and Mr. Mani, along with all other political parties in the State, remained silent till the construction of the mall was over. If anybody raises doubts about CPI (M)’s timing, he could not be blamed,’’ said Mr. Neelakandan. Still, he welcomed the criticisms against the violations.
Incidentally, environmentalists, trade unionists and political activists had come out against the leasing out of the nearly 26-acre land of the Cochin Port Trust at Bolgatty to EMKE group earlier. Though the CPI (M) too issued a press note about the Bolgatty land scandal, critics claim that the party dropped the land scam to talk about the mall.
Refuting the charges, Mr. Mani said that the party would never backtrack on its demand for the cancellation of the Bolgatty land deal and restoration of the public land.
Though there were earlier complaints about the violations in the construction of Lulu Mall, it was after the completion of the building that the encroachment on the Edappally canal and the construction of a bridge across the canal came to public attention. The party wasted no time in responding to the issue and came out against the violation, Mr. Mani said.
CITU leader M.M. Lawrence too denied the allegation that the mall issue was raised to sidestep the Bolgatty land scam.
The issue of the mall was raised to highlight the encroachment on public land and violations of building laws. The fight against the handing over of the Bolgatty land to the private entrepreneur will be strengthened in the coming days. The MPs of the party will also raise the issue in Parliament. The Lulu group was asked to bear the cost of the flyover as it contributed to the heavy traffic snarl in the area, Mr. Lawrence said.
Noted environmentalist M.K. Prasad said that the local body should be held responsible for the violation of building rules. The local body authorities are duty-bound to check the application for building a structure before and after the construction, he said.
Regarding the Bolghatty land deal, Prof. Prasad said that the government itself had violated the rules while reclaiming the land and setting up the international transshipment container terminal there. The leasing out of the Bolghatty land should be cancelled, he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has defended the Lulu group by stating that there were no violations regarding the construction of the mall.