By John Mary, 16 Feb 2007, The Peninsula Qatar,
Thiruvananthapuram • It's with love from the BJP government for the Communists in Kerala. The State's first-ever 7-star tourism resort is proposed to come up in the high-range Wynad district, courtesy Madhya Pradesh.
The Marxists who rule Kerala may not take kindly to the BJP government's plan to convert a part of the 550-acre Beenachi Estate it owns into a resort. But Kerala officials were in the dark about the proposal despite the MP-government owned Provident Investment Company placing an ad in a national daily, announcing an expression of interest for the joint venture project.
Madhya Pradesh Finance Minister Ragavji Bhai had visited various tourist resorts, including the estate, in Kerala recently on a recce mission for the Rs1-bn resort.
However, it may be not be a hassle-free affair for the MP government since Kerala government had disputed the status of the property.
Forest sources pointed out that Kerala had declared the entire estate as vested forest in 2001 though MP government subsequently challenged it in the High Court and obtained a stay against the vesting.
Therefore, any construction on the disputed property without the prior permission of the High Court would amount to contempt, say Forest sources.
But Provident Investment Company managing director K D Menon, an additional development commissioner on deputation from MP government, said his counsel in Kerala had advised him it was perfectly legal to go ahead with the project since the stay on vesting restored status quo to the property ownership.
Some 60 families have encroached on a part of the estate and refused to vacate despite MP government obtaining favorable decrees for eviction. "We are working out a mechanism to take the land back without adding to the misery of the encroachers", said Menon.
The rest of the Rs3-bn worth of land is coffee plantation and has remained more or less intact. The government got it from the Scindias during the inception of Madhya Pradesh in 1956.
According to an agency report, Trammel Crow Meghraj – Indian subsidiary of Britain-based Trammel Crow Company- has suggested the holiday resort on 35 acres.