Legislative assembly

Govt. UDF blocks horns on Kozhikode KSRTC complex

Oppn. alleges corruption in rental contracts, Minister points to Chandy Govt. for poor construction

The Congress-led opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) left the assembly on Tuesday, accusing the government of corruption by leasing the sprawling KSRTC shopping complex in Kozhikode to a builder at a price well below the market rate in force.

Congressman T. Siddique, who filed the case, said Cabinet rigged the rental offer to favor the businessman. The government had reduced the security deposit for the 13,328 square foot premium space from 50 crore to 17 crore.

It allowed the KSRTC to enter into a 37-year lease with the builder at a brazenly favorable lease rate for the tenant. It had waived stamp and registration duties and granted the builder relief from the state GST.

The charge of Satheesan

Opposition leader VD Satheesan said the KSRTC was doomed to lose at least four prime properties across Kerala to creditors due to disadvantageous rental contracts. Some shopping complexes did not have tenants.

He said the Kozhikode complex ordered in 2018 was in critical condition. Experts from IIT Chennai discovered that the structure had cracked due to insufficient steel reinforcement to hold the mortar.

The search of the minister

Transport Minister Antony Raju said he did not know who the UDF was shooting for. Oommen Chandy’s government launched the Kozhikode project and three UDF ministers oversaw its construction. Like the Palarivattom airlift, the KSRTC complex in Kozhikode was emblematic of UDF corruption. A Vigilance investigation was opened to determine responsibility.

He said the lease was on very favorable terms for the government. The rent was above the current market rate. It would cover the costs, after profit, and the whole would revert to the State after the rental period.

President MB Rajesh rejected their motion to adjourn to discuss the matter because it lacked the “urgency” of Article 50 of the Rules of Procedure and Business Conduct of the Legislative Assembly of Kerala . However, the president respected the prerogative of the opposition and allowed the UDF to briefly present its case.

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