In an uncanny resemblance to the Adarsh housing scam, albeit on a smaller scale, Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) has decided to allot 50.35 cents of government land in the heart of the city at throwaway prices to a housing society floated by top bureaucrats.
The GCDA is going ahead with the project without ensuring due diligence and despite the agency's own town planning department unambiguously putting it in writing that the project violates the city's laid-down land use norms.
According to RTI documents accessed by TOI, GCDA decided to sell the land to IAS, IPS and IFS officers at around Rs 7 lakh a cent, while the market value of land in this area of Gandhi Nagar — just around 500 meters from South railway station — is in the range of Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh per cent. Currently, this land is leased out by GCDA to a private firm for running a warehouse.
As per minutes of the executive committee meeting of GCDA held on September 10, 2015, the committee decided to sell the land to Civil Service Officers Housing Cooperative Society. The executive committee held on March 4, 2016 reiterated its decision to allot the land to the society.The decision came on the basis of an application submitted by Inspector General of police MR Ajith Kumar, president of the housing society, on September 3, 2015 requesting the agency to allot land for the society "to construct a multi-storeyed apartment." Interestingly, in the application Ajith Kumar states that the reason for approaching GCDA was because "land prices in Ernakulam have sky-rocketed and it has become impossible to acquire even a small parcel of land to construct a multi-storeyed apartment''.
The total value of 50.35 cents of land fixed by revenue authorities is Rs 3.73 crore. According real estate experts, GCDA would have easily got at least Rs 10 crore by selling it at market value. When TOI contacted GCDA secretary R Lalu on Sunday he said that the executive committee of the agency has already given its nod. "We are now waiting for final cabinet approval from the state government,'' he said.
Adarsh housing scam's whistle blower Yogacharya Anandji said this is a classic case of looting the state exchequer and favouritism shown to people in power, even as middle class families are forced to buy apartments in the outskirts of the city paying exorbitant prices.