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Leela Group ready to acquire 74 p.c. equity in Kannur airport project

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Decision has already been conveyed to the State Government

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Leela Group has evinced interest in acquiring 74 per cent of the equity of the proposed Rs.930-crore Kannur airport project to be built with private equity participation.

"We want to see that the airport at Kannur becomes a reality soon for the overall development of the Malabar and for the development of tourism in the northern districts of the State. We are ready to take the whole of the equity to be offered by the Government to the private sector," chairman of the Leela Venture C. P. Krishnan Nair told The Hindu.

The decision in this regard had already been conveyed to the State Government, Capt Nair said.

The State Government, while clearing the airport project had decided to implement it in three stages with private equity participation.

The first and second phases would cost Rs.456 crores and Rs.71.5 crores respectively. The State Government had also said that the private partner or partners would be selected through transparent bidding.

The proposed airport is coming up at Murkhanparambu in Kannur district.

IT Centre

Till date, 79.66 hectares of the 533.1 hectares needed for setting up the fourth airport of the State had already been acquired. The land acquisition for the project alone is expected to cost Rs.140 crores.

The project is pending final clearance of the Union Government. Stating that the group is very keen to be part of the development of the Malabar region, Capt. Nair said plans were also being worked out to exploit the large tracts of land near the proposed airport and the accessibility to Koorg. "The climate and topography favour floriculture and it will generate employment to at least 10,000 persons in North Malabar," he said.

With the airport coming up, the group hadalso plans to set up an Information Technology Complex at Kannur. The cairman of the Leela Venture said the group would approach Microsoft cairman Bill Gates for setting up the proposed IT centre at Kannur.

Bekal

Asked why the group had gone backward from taking the units in Bekal being leased out by the Bekal Resorts Development Corporation, Capt. Nair said they wanted to develop an exclusive resort outside the Government's scheme of things.

The Leela Venture chairman said the group had already held discussions with the Singapore-based GHM Aman group to set up an exclusive resort in Bekal for high-end clientele.

The group hadalready signed an agreement with the Group for operating its five-tar de uxe hotel -

The Leela Palace in Goa. "The rooms in the proposed resort in Kannur would be offered to high-end clientele with tariff in the range of $ 600 to $700 per day," he added.

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