Gulf-based Lulu Group vows to never invest in Andhra

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy.

Miffed at Andhra Pradesh government decision to revoke allocated land, Abu Dhabi-based conglomerate Lulu Group has vowed that they never invest in the state.

Lulu Group has signed a deal with the Andhra Pradesh government during the tenure of Chandrababu Naidu to build an international convention centre, shopping mall and a five star hotel in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam. They decided to withdraw from the project following YS Jaganmohan Reddy government's October 30 decision to cancel the land allotted near harbor park facing the sea. The Lulu Group was supposed to invest Rs 2,200 crore that would have provided employment to over 7,000 people.

“Our Company decided not to invest in any project in Andhra Pradesh based on the current situation," Lulu Group India director Ananth Ram said in a statement on Tuesday night. The Lulu Group which has invested in Kerala earlier has said that it would, however, invest in states like Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. “These investments would go as per schedule,” he said.

“We had participated in a very transparent bidding process and were awarded the land on lease for this project. Though we have incurred huge expenses towards initial project development costs such as appointing internationally renowned consultants and designing the project by world-class architects, we agree to the decision of the new Government of Andhra Pradesh to revoke the land allotment for this project,” said Ananth Ram, Lulu Group’s Director for India.

The state cabinet under Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy while deciding to scrap the land allotted to Lulu also said that the land was given away unethically by the TDP Government.

“The Chandrababu Naidu government didn’t call for global tenders as the Lulu Group was close to him. Lulu group was favoured and land was allotted in contravention of rules. The land was handed over to Lulu at a throw away price of Rs 4 lakh per acre while the market value is much higher,’’ state Information minister Perni Nani said briefing the cabinet decisions.

It was in February 2019 that Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the project. Just before elections, the civil work had begun for the 10,000-capacity convention centre, 20-lakh-sqft shopping mall and a luxury hotel. The then CM Naidu also visited Kochi to see the Lulu Mall there.

However, local conservationists have alleged that the Naidu government had violated the CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) norms while allocating land to the Lulu Group.

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