Yusuf Ali to go ahead with Kochi convention centre project

Thiruvananthapuram, June 8 (IANS) Middle East-based businessman from Kerala M.A. Yusuf Ali Saturday announced that the proposed convention centre at Kochi, which was embroiled in a controversy, would go ahead as planned.

Last month, the owner of the Emke Group had announced that he would withdraw from the project after allegations of land encroachment were made against him.

"After receiving support from various political parties in the state and being the goodwill ambassador for investment in Kerala, I have decided to go ahead with the project. The work will begin in three months' time as two more sanctions are to be procured from the state government," said Ali at a press conference here.

The 10.59 hectare land for the convention centre at Kochi was leased to the entrepreneur in 2010 after a tender was floated by the Cochin Port Trust. The same year, the board of trustees approved the proposal unanimously in a meeting.

However, last month a section of the media had reported that the land lease was improper. Soon more reports followed that said the Rs.1,600 crore mall built by Ali in Kochi was on an encroached parcel of land.

"I was deeply pained by these reports. Even the Arabic newspapers carried this news and soon people who knew me started asking me questions. However later, some reports refuted the claim," Ali said.

He added that the proposed convention centre would have a luxury hotel and service apartments.

"The lease is for 30 years. If it is not renewed after that it would become the property of the Cochin Port Trust," Ali said.

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