THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Four years after laying the foundation stone for the much-hyped International School of Music at the Veli Tourist Village here, sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has decided to drop his plan. Disappointing scores of music aficionados in the state, former Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi chairman Soorya Krishnamoorthy recently signed the documents backing out from the project on behalf of the ustad, officially sealing the school’s fate.
According to sources, the maestro’s decision to return the two-acre land earmarked for the project to the Tourism Department comes in the wake of a new set of terms put forward by the state government. Sources close to the chief minister’s office said the government had proposed a huge annual lease amount for the allotted land, in addition to the demand to include government representatives in the institute’s governing body.
Krishnamoorthy, who was an active part of the project, said the government’s lease demand was what primarily put off the maestro. “It is unfortunate that we had to drop the project after making it thus far, but we could not agree with their demands. In addition to the lease amount, they also wanted four of the school’s seven governing body members to be government representatives,” he said.
“Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had taken a personal interest in the project. But it seems the administrators didn’t want this to happen and so came up with new terms to dissuade the ustad,” he added.
The then UDF government had earmarked the land for the project in 2016, after Khan expressed interest to set up a gurukula-model school in Kerala.
The maestro wanted to leave Delhi for good and settle down in Thiruvananthapuram, Krishnamoorthy said. An official with the Tourism Department, who was also involved in the project, said the government had never officially handed over the land for the project.
Maestro’s pullout: Minister says not aware of reason
Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said: “As far as I know, they don’t want to execute the project here and they have backed out. It’s an administrative matter and I’m not aware of the reason why they are not pursuing the project.” Former chief minister Oommen Chandy said Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s decision to back out from the music school project was a huge loss to the state.
He accused the LDF government of not taking interest in a project that could have benefited music lovers, adding such a school had the potential to change the profile of the state. “The UDF government had not taken the decision to hand over the land for free in a haste. We held discussions and realised how an international music school would benefit the state.
It is impossible for governments to launch such a project. All we can do is promote the idea and facilitate its implementation. When a global figure like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan expressed his interest in setting up music school here, we knew it would be a milestone,” he said.