KOCHI: Like many other Malayali expatriates, Jiju KP invested his earning of a lifetime with the dream of spending the remaining life in Kerala. But he made a mistake: Jiju, hailing from Manjapra near Angamaly, blindly believed the state government machinery without knowing the harsh realities of the investment atmosphere in the state.
Jiju’s struggles started in 2014 when he spent Rs 55 lakh for a hotel business on a piece of land leased from Kerala State Bamboo Corporation in Angamaly, only to end up in legal hassles. Now, he has been asked to pay rent for a building made with his hard-earned money but could never make use of.
“I had spent the savings of my 20 arduous years in Dubai in the project. I had been running a few businesses there and my wife Shali was an employee at a UAE-government hospital. It was the promise by the previous director board of the Bamboo Corporation which prompted us to make such a huge investment. When the Angamaly municipality came up with objections, the corporation also changed its stance.
In between, the new director board took charge and decided to move forward with the decision,” said Jiju. Interestingly, the same Angamaly municipality recently promised Jiju to issue an exemption for the bamboo-themed hotel if the corporation renewed the contract. “As the ccorporation’s land was in a prime location close to Angamaly railway station, I constructed the hotel with the help of the corporation in 2014. Angamaly municipality issued the occupancy certificate within a month after completing the construction.
But when I applied for the building number later, the same officials pointed out structural violations and demanded the demolition of the entire structure. During a recent adalat, the officials made an offer to issue the building number if I receive a renewed contract from the corporation,” he said. The matter became a legal battle when Jiju approached the Kerala High Court to obtain the building number. In between, the Bamboo Corporation approached the Aluva Munsiff Court which directed Jiju to remit Rs 21.90 lakh in due rent since 2015.
“Due to the objections from the municipality, I could not open the hotel even for a single day. I had paid around Rs 10 lakh in rent to Bamboo Corporation till the end of 2015 with the hope of resolving the issues. Left with no other option, I filed a counter-petition in the Kerala High Court and obtained a stay. The loans taken for construction and the court fees have forced me to sell off my own home and other belongings,” said the 46-year-old.
Currently, Jiju and his wife work at a hotel to meet their daily expenses. “Along with regular requirements, we need to find the academic expenses of our three daughters. I won’t commit suicide like Sajan. I am trying to prove a point through the legal battle for all those who cherish to invest back home. If I couldn’t get a favourable decision in the case, I have no option but to return to exile again,” said Jiju who recently wrote to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister to find a solution in the matter.
Meanwhile, the current director board of the Bamboo Corporation has refuted the allegations. “The previous director board had issued licences for only two kiosks. But Jiju illegally constructed the building without the municipality’s approval. If we renew the licence on humanitarian grounds, the entire director board will end up in trouble. We have no option but to execute the court ruling,” said K J Jacob, chairman, Bamboo Corporation.
Caught in legal hassle
The matter became a legal battle when Jiju approached the Kerala High Court to obtain the building number. In between, the Bamboo Corporation approached the Aluva Munsiff Court which directed Jiju to remit Rs 21.90 lakh in due rent since 2015.