PALAKKAD: The debate on holding celebrities accountable for the brands they endorse is not yet over, but a Kerala star legislator himself has landed in a controversy endorsing a builder violating the law. Kollam MLA, film star M. Mukesh, courted controversy by becoming the brand ambassador of a real estate project at Kalmandapam near Palakkad town. A vigilance investigation had found that the building came up on an ecologically fragile land violating Kerala Paddy Field and Wetland Conservation Act.
Besides that, the additional chief secretary had ordered in 2015 to revenue, water resources and local administration department to take action on the report and reinstate the fields that used to have three-time a year cultivation (Mupoo Krishi) till 2005. The complainant, Hamsa Chemmana, told DC that even after two years of the order, all the concerned authorities were sitting on it and celebrities like Mukesh are knowingly or unknowingly misleading the public who buys property in the flat.
He said 45 acres of land had been illegally reclaimed and action needed to be taken against all the constructions in the locality including the apartment complex. A bridge was built over a canal connecting Malampuzha to this wetland by private parties using ghost applicants citing that a bridge was necessary to transport manure and farm produce as a part of paddy farming and this bridge, in turn, was used to illegally reclaim the vast stretch of land, Hamsa said.
Speaking to DC, owner of the building K. S. Sethumadhavan said there were nearly 500 buildings in the area including a school and residential colonies and all of them including his had approval from the local body. Last year, a parliamentary panel had suggested a penalty of up to Rs 50 lakh and a jail term of up to five years for celebrities endorsing such misleading brands. It was reduced to a fine only in the Consumer Protection Bill tabled in Parliament last month. Mr Mukesh was not available for response.