Govt. UDF lock horns over Kozhikode KSRTC complex

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition walked out of the Assembly on Tuesday, accusing the Government of corruption in leasing out the expansive KSRTC commercial complex in Kozhikode to a builder at far less than the prevailing market rate.

Congress legislator T. Siddique, who tabled the matter, said the Cabinet had rigged the lease bid to favour the businessperson. The Government had slashed the caution deposit for the 1,13,328 sq ft premium space from ₹50 crores to ₹17 crores.

It allowed the KSRTC to enter into a 37-year rental agreement with the builder at a lease rate brazenly advantageous to the tenant. It had waived stamp and registration duties and given the builder State GST relief.

Satheesan’s charge

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said the KSRTC was bound to lose at least four prime properties across Kerala to creditors due to disadvantageous lease agreements. Some commercial complexes had no takers.

He said the Kozhikode complex commissioned in 2018 was in a critical state. Experts from the Chennai IIT found the structure cracking due to insufficient steel reinforcement to hold the mortar.

Minister’s dig

Transport Minister Antony Raju said he was unsure for whom the UDF was gunning. Oommen Chandy Government had initiated the Kozhikode project, and three UDF Ministers had overseen its construction. Like the Palarivattom flyover bridge, the KSRTC complex in Kozhikode was emblematic of UDF’s corruption. A Vigilance inquiry was on to fix responsibility.

He said the lease agreement was on very favourable terms for the Government. The rent exceeded the current market rate. It would cover the costs, post profit, and the complex would return to the State after the lease period.

Speaker M. B. Rajesh rejected their adjournment motion to discuss the matter because it lacked the “urgency” of Rule 50 Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Kerala Legislative Assembly. However, the Speaker respected the Opposition’s prerogative and allowed the UDF to present its case briefly.

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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 11:08:23 pm |