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Andhra Pradesh - Visakhapatnam Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Future of Knowledge City land uncertain

Santosh Patnaik

APIIC cancels allotment to Unitech Limited


It is said APIIC may go in for fresh tenders

Left parties favour a layout for the poor


VISAKHAPATNAM: A question mark hangs over the future of the huge extent of land allotted to Unitech Limited for development of ‘Visakhapatnam Integrated Knowledge City' after its cancellation by the AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporation. Though the allotment process triggered a controversy in 2007, the APIIC had brushed aside the allegations saying 1,750 acres given to Unitech at Kapulauppada would change the face of Visakhapatnam. There is a talk that the APIIC may go for fresh tenders by not shelving the plan to develop Knowledge City. Some say that it may be developed as an IT SEZ, or a satellite township. However, sources say that Unitech is also in the process of challenging the cancellation order.

At the time of bidding, 18 bought the documents and only five – Unitech, Al Hamara Real Estates Pvt. Company LLC, ETA Star Property Developers LLC, and DLF Ltd – submitted the bids. The Left parties want the land to be developed into a layout and given free or at a nominal cost to the poor. “There is no point in saying that there is no land to be given to the weaker sections,” CPI(M) city secretariat member B. Ganga Rao has said.

Leisure tourism

Apart from knowledge units, the project envisaged construction of convention centres, shopping complexes, leisure tourism projects, 18-hole international golf course, and star hotels.

The APIIC cancelled the allotment for failure to begin work within the stipulated time. The cancellation order came in the backdrop of the company's alleged involvement in the 2G scam and the threat from the Enforcement Directorate to attach its properties. At the time of allotment, Unitech had guaranteed return of Rs. 3,288 crore in 10 years to the APIIC. The land was sold for Rs. 350 crore at a time when VUDA auction of bulk lands near the project site had fetched Rs. 2.38 crore per acre. Unitech, which promised an investment of Rs. 20,000 crore on infrastructure, had just invested a little over Rs. 200 crore on the project. A huge hillock formed part of the project site. Samata, an NGO, had filed a case against the allotment of the hillock in the High Court alleging that in the name of development the ecosystem was being tampered with.

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