Panel constituted to probe 'Cybercity' land deal

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 30 (UNI) The Kerala Government today constituted a panel headed by the state Chief Secretary to look into all aspects relating to the sale of 70 acres of land by a public sector unit to a Mumbai-based company to set up a Rs 4,000 crore 'Cybercity' project in Kochi.

Briefing newspersons after a meeting of the state Cabinet, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said the committee, comprising secretaries of Revenue, Industry, IT and Law departments, was asked to submit its report within a week.

The government would take a stand on the basis of the report, he added.

A controvery arose following the handing over of the land, which was given to the public sector Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) by the state government free of cost, to Mumbai-based HDIL (Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd) for purpose 'other than industrial.' The HDIL had put in a proposal for 'building a township in Kalamassery' to cater to the IT industry. During the recent foundation stone laying ceremony, the company claimed that it would generate 60,000 direct jobs. Though Industry Minister Elamaram Karim took the initiative for bringing the investment, the state IT department stated that the HDIL had not put forward any proposal before the government for the setting up of IT infrastructure.

The Chief Minister said the government would go ahead with its campaign to evict encroachers from government land. ''We have already took possession of 12,000 acres in Munnar and another 15,000 acres in different parts of the state,'' he added.

Mr Achuthanandan said the Cabinet authorised the Kerala Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) to acquire 2,200 acres of land for the proposed Kannur airport. Of this, 150 acres would be set apart for the rehabilitation of those evicted from the site.

He said the Cabinet also decided to hike by 50 per cent the lump sum grant and pocket money for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. An additional Rs 70 crore would be required for the purpose.

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