Kerala: Files on handing over Kovalam Palace may be placed before Cabinet today
The protests notwithstanding, the government is set to hand over Kovalam Palace and the adjoining 63.68 acres of land - worth more than `3,000 crore - to the Ravi Pillai Group.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The protests notwithstanding, the government is set to hand over Kovalam Palace and the adjoining 63.68 acres of land - worth more than `3,000 crore - to the Ravi Pillai Group.
The Tourism Department is expected to place the file on handing over the property before the Cabinet on Wednesday. Though the government had raised the matter before the Cabinet on various occasions, strong protests against the move by the Revenue Minister had delayed a decision.
Following the Revenue Department’s objections, it is learnt the Tourism Department will include the matter in the Cabinet’s agenda. It is said the Tourism Department is taking the lead as the palace and its surrounding areas fall under it. However, highly-placed officers said any matter with respect to land has to go through the Revenue Department as per the rules of business. Here, the Tourism Department is bypassing the Revenue Department which is the custodian of all public lands, the officers said.
Sources said there was immense pressure on the government to hand over the property to the RP group. They said the government was not even considering ways to get back the historical palace and the adjoining land. The Left Government was allegedly in a rush to hand over the property to the group.
Though the Revenue Department had recommended to the Chief Minister to hand over possession rights to the group and reserve the right to file a civil suit, sources said it was doubtful if the rights would be reserved.
Despite repeated attempts, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekaran was unavailable for comments. Last week, he had told Express he could not comment on the issue as it was to be considered by the Cabinet.
He had, however, said the department was for protecting as well as retrieving all public lands that were in the possession of others.
A palace of controversy
The Kovalam Palace became a point of controversy in 2004 after the ITDC sold the palace to Mfar Hotel Pvt Ltd as part of its disinvestment drive, even when the original order upholding the land’s ownership with the state government was standing.