Thiruvananthapuram: Amid controversies over various projects proposed to be showcased at 'Emerging Kerala' investors' meet, beginning at Kochi from September 12, the ruling UDF is facing embarrassment for a scheme to set up a "night life zone" here, figuring in its website.
    
With the issue coming to the fore, the government has asked T Balakrishnan, a former bureaucrat who now heads the state-run Infrastructures Kerala Limited (INKEL) to give explanation for including such a proposal which was not in tune with the state's cultural ethos, sources said.
    
INKEL MD Balakrishnan was learnt to have presented the project without consulting the Chief Secretary, who was screening the schemes to be showcased at the meet, to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, they said.
    
According to the sources, Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty had given a note to the department's secretary to enquire whether there was a conspiracy behind the inclusion of such projects, which were not in tune with the state's cultural ethos and meant to defame the government.
    
The INKEL had proposed a Rs 200 crore project for the 'night life zone', which includes discotheques and bars in 18 acre near Veli tourist village on outskirts of Thiruvanathapuram, the state capital.

The government has put on hold the proposal to handover on lease the land around the Halcyon palace at Kovalam for the private RP group for business activities.
    
A decision on this would be taken only after discussions with all political parties, Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar said.
    
Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan had criticised the move to hand over the land and wanted the government to protect the palace as a heritage monument.
    
Despite stiff opposition, the tourism projects proposed at ecologically sensitive areas like Vagamon and Nelliyambathi are yet to be dropped from the list of proposals to be presented at the Emerging Kerala event.
    
The UDF government has scrapped 38 projects listed for the meet due to mounting allegations.
    
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, however, has repeatedly asserted that the government did not intend to alienate a single piece of land on long-term lease to the investors.
    
He also made it clear that 'Emerging Kerala' was not a mere investors' meet to clinch business proposals on the spot but to project the inherent strengths of the state to be an ideal destination for a wide range of projects including a knowledge city.

(Agencies)

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