Cochin Port Trust says no irregularity in Bolghatty land lease

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on May 28, 2013 Published on May 28, 2013

The Cochin Port Trust on Tuesday said it had carried out a transparent tender process before leasing its land on Bolghatty Island to the Emke Group.

Port Trust Chairman Paul Antony’s clarification comes in the wake of controversies surrounding the land lease for 30 years to the Dubai-based Emke Group owned by NRI businessman M.A. Yusuff Ali.

The Emke Group had got the 10-hectare plot to construct a convention centre and hotel project for Rs 71 crore.

Following the controversies over the land lease, the group has decided to withdraw from the project and has sent a letter to the port management seeking to return the money without interest. The group, which owns the Lulu Hypermarket chain in West Asia, had recently opened Lulu Mall in Kochi.

The Chairman told reporters here that the port had secured the approval of the Shipping Ministry for commercial use of certain properties which could not be used for shipping purposes. The Ministry also permitted leasing of these lands for 30 years with an option for renewal after the lease period at the then prevailing rates.

He said that only one firm had responded to the tender floated by the port. The Emke Group had offered Rs 6.74 crore per hectare which was higher than the lease amount fixed for the plot on the basis of the upfront premium calculated in accordance with the Land Policy guidelines.

The Board of Trustees, including the Labour Trustees, had approved the proposal unanimously and 10.59 hectares of land was leased in 2010. Antony said the Port would seek legal opinion on the Emke Group’s demand for return of Rs 71 crore paid by it.

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Published on May 28, 2013
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