Kerala ready to scrap Cyber City land deal


Kochi : The Kerala government said Monday it will not hesitate to cancel the proposed Rs.40-billion ($1 billion) Cyber City project here if any foul play was detected in the transfer of 70 acres of government land to the project’s promoters.

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The government’s view was conveyed to the Kerala High Court by the state’s additional advocate general V. Chandrasekharan Nair during hearing on a public interest petition (PIL) that demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the land deal.

Human rights activist K. Joy filed the PIL. After preliminary hearing, a division bench of the court admitted the petition and issued notices to the state, the centre and the Mumbai-based Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), the project promoters.

Nair told the bench there were some lapses in the project and the state government was looking into these.

The project is proposed to come up on 70 acres, which the HDIL says it acquired from public sector Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd (HMT) through a public auction.

The opposition Congress party has been demanding a CBI probe into how HMT sold the government land for the private Cyber City project, alleging state Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem’s involvement in it.

The Congress contends that the state government gave the land free of cost to HMT and hence the public sector undertaking cannot part with it without the government approval.

The petitioner claimed Kareem and Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran took the decision to remove all hurdles for the land deal.

Reacting to the latest developments, leader of opposition Oommen Chandy told reporters that with the state government admitting lapses, the two ministers should resign.

“The state government has admitted that lapses have occurred and it is more than enough for the two ministers to resign. They now say that the advertisement to sell the land was made when I was the chief minister. If that is the case please include that also in a judicial probe that we have asked to be done in this scandal,” said Chandy.

Meanwhile, Kareem said calls for his resignation has also come in the past.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front is meeting tomorrow here to decide the course of the agitation it would launch to see the two ministers step down.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has washed his hands of the project.

He did not turn up for its foundation stone laying ceremony on Jan 12 on the ground that despite he being the IT Minister, his department was kept in the dark about the project.