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Sale of Vizag land, once allotted to Lulu, kicks up row

Political parties, activists strongly decry AP govt’s decision to sell the prime land

Sale of Vizag land, once allotted to Lulu, kicks up row
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Sale of Vizag land, once allotted to Lulu, kicks up row

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NBCC has sought bids from interested parties by fixing the reserve price of 13.59 acres land at Harbour Park area with beachfront view, at Rs 1,452 crore. This is the highest price being sought for any piece of land in Visakhapatnam

Visakhapatnam: The decision of the Andhra Pradesh government to auction a prime land parcel earlier allotted to UAE-based LuLu Group in Visakhapatnam has kicked up a row.

Political parties as well as activists strongly decried the decision. NBCC (India) Ltd, a Navratna CPSU, has sought bids from interested parties by fixing the reserve price of 13.59 acres of prime land at Harbour Park area with beachfront view, at Rs 1,452 crore. This is the highest price being sought for any piece of land either by the government or any realty or private individual in Visakhapatnam, the main industrial hub and proposed executive capital of AP. Few other plots at the industrial areas of Agnampudi and Fakirtakia have also been put on sale.

Social activist and former IAS officer EAS Sarma said the government is the custodian of certain properties which it should not sell as an option to mobilise resources. He told Bizz Buzz on Thursday that earlier also the State government had to put under abeyance its decision to e-auction certain lands in Visakhapatnam and Guntur following intervention by judiciary. He said instead of selling prime plots, it is better to develop them for parks and parking lots for creating lung space and avoid choking roads on both sides with vehicles.

Incidentally, the decision to e-auction Harbour Park land, for which nearly four acres was acquired from a function hall to allow LuLu Group to have beachfront view for the proposed international convention centre, shopping complex and a five-star hotel with an investment of Rs 2200 crore, has been taken immediately after conclusion of the GVMC elections.

LuLu Group was allotted the land by the then TDP government and the foundation stone was laid in 2018 during CII Partnership Summit. After change of guard, YSR Congress Party Government rescinded the agreement with LuLu Group saying the deal was not transparent. It also said the land was allotted to LuLu at a lesser price than the prevailing value withmalafide intention.

Prior to allotment of land to LuLu, the TDP Government acquired a sea-facing function hall swapping six prime sites in various areas in the city to the owner of the function hall by waiving off registration charges.

Many realtors expressed surprise at the high rate fixation for sale of land earlier allotted to LuLu Group at little over Rs 100 crore per acre at reserve price of Rs1,452 crore at the rate of around Rs2.2 lakh per square yard.

When contacted Credai Vizag Zone Chairman Srinivasa Rao said as per their knowledge, plots had been sold till date up to Rs1.3 lakh to Rs1.4 lakh per square yard.

On the other hand, LuLu Group reacted to the cancellation of allotment in 2019 with a note of sarcasm claiming that it incurred heavy expenditure on development of the plot and appointment of internationally-known consultant and architect. While accepting the decision, it had declared that "given the current scenario, we have decided not to invest in any new project in Andhra Pradesh."

CPI (M) city president M Ganga Rao, former Minister for Municipal Administration and TDP leader Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy found fault with the government for its bid to sell prime lands through NBCC. The company has also been engaged to monetise 22 acres belonging to RashtriyaIspat Nigam Limited (RINL) at Seethammadhara. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy during his recent visit mooted selling 7,000 acres belonging to RINL for residential and other purposes to raise funds and prevent its privatisation.

Santosh Patnaik
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