Kochi: The Revenue Department has tinkered with KMRL’s standard land acquisition norms for Kochi metro rail project when it signed an agreement for purchasing 32 cents belonging Seematti Textiles on MG Road, here.
The final agreement, signed by District Collector M G Rajamanickam on behalf of the Revenue Department and Ms T Beena Kannan of Seematti Textiles, reveals significant deviations from standard clauses in agreements between KMRL and other land owners. This has been accessed by RTI activist S Dhanraj.
Though the state-level empowered committee had fixed the price at Rs 52 lakh a cent, which was mentioned in the initial agreement, the final agreement with Seematti incorporated a clause on the land owner’s right to get Rs 80 lakh a cent.
Unlike in agreements with other land owners, the agreement with Ms Kannan bars KMRL from using the land for purposes other than the Metro.
The extra clause says “the owner and the interested party have agreed for the deal of the said land hithereto being used as Metro rail purpose and for no other purpose to KMRL”.
The Kochi Metro Rail Limited has sent letters to the government and the district collector seeking to redraft the agreement with the Seematti Textiles in view of the RTI revelations that the deal, including the price of Rs 80 lakh per cent, was in violation of the standard clauses made with other land owners.
“Importing extraneous provisions into the agreement, which may confer a measure of legitimacy to the land owner's demand for a much higher rate of compensation, may prove detrimental to the financial interests of KMRL as well as the state, because such provisions may give the party the right to agitate for higher benefits before courts and at administrative levels,” the letter said.
An official spokesperson of KMRL claimed that they were kept in the dark while reaching an agreement with the textile group.
The KMRL has been concerned over the strange clauses inserted by the revenue department for the purchase of 32 cents for the Kochi Metro Rail Project.
It has said that if the agreement is accepted, it will affect the finances of the government and KMRL.
“We are surprised to note that this particular agreement has significantly deviated from the template,” a letter sent by Mr Abraham Oommen, director finance of KMRL, said.
The letter was sent to the principal secretary (revenue) and district collector M.G. Rajamanickam. Though the KMRL officials claimed that the letter was handed over to the collector by hand, he denied receiving any letter from the KMRL.
In its letter, the KMRL also stated that since the lands were being directly purchased free of encumbrances, the KMRL has the right to use them for purposes of Metro rail.
Under the circumstances, it would be contrary to the KMRL's interests to restrict the use of land which has been bought at negotiated market rates from a private party.
KMRL said, the agreement may seriously compromise the operation of Kochi Metro. This would also be detrimental to the finances of the government. since funds for land acquisition for the Metro flow from state budget.
KMRL officials claim that the Ernakulam collectorate till date has not handed over the copy of the agreement to the KMRL.
The land acquisition department claims that only after handing over the entire due to the parties, the agreement and property would be handed over to the KMRL....