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Kerala tourism to get a lift

Written by: Staff

Kochi, Mar 28: Kerala-based Universal Empire Group has said it plans investments worth Rs 1,750 crore in various infrastructure projects, including an airline in North-East India and a mega tourism project in Kerala, in the next five years.

Addressing a press conference here last night, Universal CMD K Balachandran Nair and Director, International Affiars, P V Vivekanand, said that the group was at present running a 100 seat medical college, a 40 seat dental college and a 700 bed hospital in Nepal, the Tripura Medical College in Agartala and the Thamath Institute of Management and Technology at Alappuzha, Kerala.

It was now planning to make a major foray into the infrastructure sector with an airline service, a knowledge hub and global university, a mega tourism project, a hydro-electric project and medical colleges and healthcare facilities.

The group's airline service 'Surya Air' would be the first dedicated airline service for the north-east. The Rs 150 crore project was expected to take off by October this year.

To be started in collaboration with Buddha Air of Nepal, 'Surya Air' will, in the first phase, operate five 19-seater fixed wing pressurised Beechcraft aircraft, manufactured by Raytheon, US, to connect major cities and towns in the north-east and eastern India.

In the subsequent phases, the air service would be extended to the western and southern parts of the country, he said.

On its home turf, Kerala, the Kochi-based group planned to put up a mega tourism project, at a cost of Rs 300 crore, in Alappuzha district. The project would include an eco-resort, a convention centre, a golf course, an art, culture and heritage zone and other tourist attractions such as a 'dolphanium' and an 'ice city', Mr Vivekanand said.

For the knowledge hub and global university, meant primarily to cater to non-resident Indians and 'people of Indian origin', the group was holding talks with the Goa government. A 700 acre site, close to capital Panaji and NH 17, had been identified. The National Capital Region (NCR) Delhi was also under consideration for the project, which entailed an investment of Rs 1,000 crore.

It was intended as a knowledge cluster in which various universities, R&D det-ups of companies, townships housing students, faculty and companies would be present.

The group was also planning a Rs 300 crore investment, based on a public-private partnership model, to set up medical colleges and healthcare facilities in states lacking in these services.

It had also carried out initial discussions with the Arunachal Pradesh Government to set up a hydro-electric project.

In reply to a question, Mr Nair said that the group, with an asset base of Rs 150 crore, would mobilise money from overseas for the investments.


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