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Land allotted to LuLu now under VMRDA control, could be sold off

Earlier the YSRCP govt made 2 attempts to monetise the land: selling it through NBCC and mortgaging it

Land allotted to LuLu now under VMRDA control, could be sold off

Land allotted to LuLu now under VMRDA control, could be sold off

Visakhapatnam The recent decision of Andhra Pradesh Government to transfer 13.59 acres of prime land belonging to APIIC to Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority (VMRDA) has set off speculation that there could be another fresh attempt to sell off the land, which was allotted to UAE-based LuLu Group in 2018 for development of an international convention centre, five-star hotel and a multiplex at a cost of Rs 2200 crore.

The allotment of the precious land with seaview, part of which was acquired by the erstwhile TDP Government from a private function hall in lieu of gifting away of six prime plots in the city without any registration charges at the behest of the LuLu Group, was cancelled by the YSRCP regime after coming to power alleging loss of revenue to the exchequer due to undervaluation of the land value. A senior official of the district administration confirmed that the land in question has been transferred to VMRDA-the largest urban development authority in Andhra Pradesh. Earlier, there were attempts by the YSRCP Government to sell away the land through NBCC for an upset price of Rs 1450 crore, which did not materialise due to stiff opposition. There was also an attempt to obtain a loan by mortgaging the land to fund some of the welfare schemes. Responding to the cancellation of the land deal, LuLu Group in a statement issued from Abu Dhabi had expressed surprise over the cancellation of land and MoU and declared that they would not invest in any project in Andhra Pradesh under the present dispensation.

Appealing to the government to refrain from selling away the land located at Harbour Park, social activist and former IAS officer EAS Sarma mailed a representation to Y Srilakshmi, Special Chief Secretary, Municipal Administration and Urban Development not to go ahead with the plans to sell away the land. He told Bizz Buzz that the government, being a custodian of public properties and lands, cannot give it away to private individuals or private parties to mop up funds. Instead, importance should be given to develop lung space in the forms of developing parks or basic amenities like parking space.

Sarma said the land in question falls within CRZ-II and it is ecologically sensitive where no construction activity can be permitted nor any extraction of water through borewells allowed. “I may caution the government that the Supreme Court, on May 8, 2019, ordered five apartments in Marudu Municipality in Kerala to be demolished for violation of (CRZ) rules. Both the government, NBCC as well as the bidders should know that any construction in S.No 1101 (where the said land is located) in violation of the CRZ norms would meet with the same fate.

In the letter to Srilakshmi, Sarma pointed out that from the pattern of developments seen so far, one should not be surprised if the auction of the land in S.No 1101 ends up in the land being handed over to benami chosen persons. He sought a judicial probe into land scams involving Daspalla lands and acquisition of lands belonging to fishermen at Pedajalaripeta.

Santosh Patnaik
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