KOCHI: Give two and take one. A deal akin to that simple arithmetic running into crores of rupees, though unsuccessful, is learnt to have set off a series of events leading to the controversial land deal at the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly rocking the entire Syro-Malabar Church and subsequent litigation.
Should plans have worked out, the Church would have had to part ways with premium priced land at cheap rates only to buy ‘cheap’ land at a premium price. The Syro-Malabar Church would have suffered a huge loss worth more than Rs 100 crore if the deal to exchange some plots in and around the city for 70 acres of land at Kottappady near Kothamangalam had materialised.
The deal was to hand over plots at Kundannur, near Ambedkar Stadium and Thevara to one Jose Kurian of Kothamangalam in exchange for 70 acres at Kottappady.
According to local people of Kothamangalam, the average land price there is not more than Rs 50,000 per cent, while the price of land in and around the city ranges from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 30 lakh a cent.
“If that deal had materialised, the Church would have suffered a mammoth loss as the value of this 70 acres cannot even be compared with that of city plots. This would have been even bigger than the present controversy,” said a local person who does not want to be named.
What aborted this deal was a board placed on this 70 acres saying ‘Site for Super Speciality Hospital project by the Church’.
The Church had purchased 23.91 acres at Mattoor with an aim of starting a medical college, ignoring stringent protests against the project by a section of priests.
Someone took a photo of this board and circulated it on social media. With this, questions were raised from different corners asking why a super speciality hospital is required as the medical college project was about to take off. Actually, placing the board was a trick played by a local land broker to sell plots near this site at a premium price, it is pointed out.
The finance officer informed the finance committee of the archdiocese that the loan availed to purchase land at Mattoor can be repaid by selling the 70 acres at Kottappady.
He also informed the committee that a party had expressed interest in buying the land at Rs 1.5 lakh a cent.
The heated discussion on this deal led to details of other deals and sparked off a controversy in the Church.