Tourism Minister AC Moideen said that no construction work had taken place on the site, and it had been identified as a prime location for tourism.

Opposition slams Kerala govts decision to reclaim land given to Amjad Ali Khans music schoolUstad Amjad Ali Khan/Facebook
news Culture Sunday, October 09, 2016 - 17:57

The Kerala tourism department has decided to reclaim the land sanctioned to Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan to set up a music academy in Thiruvananthapuram.


The decision to reclaim the land granted during the previous UDF government’s tenure was taken at a high-level meeting convened by Kerala’s Tourism Minister AC Moideen on Wednesday. The tourism secretary, tourism director, and officials from the revenue and culture department participated in the meeting.


Two acres in the Veli Tourist Village in the capital city were sanctioned to the musician by the UDF government in September 2015, based on an earlier decision in 2013. 


This land was being reclaimed in order to develop the Tourist Village as a prominent tourist destination, a press release from the tourism department said.


The department’s decision has invited ire from various quarters with former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy flaying the LDF government for being so dismissive of culture.


Asserting that the proposed music academy would have been an asset to the state, Chandy said on Saturday, "The decision to cancel the allotment is an insult to Kerala’s culture.”


He urged the state government to reconsider its decision.


Taking to Twitter to express his disagreement, MP Shashi Tharoor termed the decision of the state government as “unprincipled, petty and anti-culture.”

Responding to the criticism, Kerala Tourism Minister AC Moideen told The News Minute that the government has decided to reclaim the land, because it had identified the potential of developing a tourist spot at the location.


“The state government is not against Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan setting up a music academy in Kerala. But apart from the previous government declaring land for this purpose, there has been no development in this regard. Now the tourism department has decided to set up a tourist village in the land owned by it,” he said.


The minister denied reports that preliminary construction work on a building has already begun.


“A puja was held a few months back. Other than that, no construction work has been carried out in the land. Of the 24-acre area, apart from 7 acres, the rest is wetland. The government aims to revive this spot. A sub-committee of the revenue department is also looking into the matters of land sanctioning,” the minister said.


Moideen added that the government is open to allotting other land for the purpose of a music academy. 


"We are not against the idea, but if he raises such a demand, we may consider allotting another piece of land for this purpose. He could set up a school in Kerala, but it need not be in Veli itself. But for now, this is only an imaginary situation," the Minister said. 


Former Tourism Minister AP Anil Kumar told Deccan Chronicle that the decision was unfortunate. “It was the Ustad himself who had put forward the request for land during a meeting he had with the then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy,” Anil Kumar said.


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