Millennium Post

Mumbai land deal: Airports Authority terminates contract with Leela group

After the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre uncomfortable questions on why they were helping top hoteliers- the Leela group hold onto a prime plot of land near the Mumbai airport, the Airports Authority of India has terminated the land contract with the Leela group. Millennium Post was the first to highlight this in its edition dated February 8.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Thursday said it has started the eviction process against Hotel Leela Venture, which runs a five-star hotel on the plots of land leased to them near the Mumbai international airport.

Besides, the national airports operator has started the proceedings to recover the dues.

The total area of plot allotted by AAI is 29,000 square metres through different agreements.

"Since they had defaulted in payment and also for other violations in terms of the agreements executed between AAI and Hotel Leela Venture Ltd and after prolonged litigations, AAI Board decided to terminate the contract," AAI said in a release. It said that subsequently, notices were issued for payment of dues and to hand over the possession of the property latest by October 31, 2016.

"Since they had failed to hand over the possession of the property and pay the outstanding dues to the Authority within the stipulated date, the eviction and recovery proceedings of dues have been commenced by the Eviction Officer. "... show-cause notice has been issued for appearance on February 16, 2017 under the provisions of the AAI Act, 1994," the release said.

There was no immediate comment from Hotel Leela Venture.

The Apex Court while hearing a PIL on the Mumbai land deal asked the Central government whether it was "hand in glove" with people who do not pay.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar called it "very unfortunate" that the Centre was "still making requests" and had not gone ahead to effectively retrieve the money. The bench, also comprising Justice N V Ramana, was hearing a petition by 'Resources of Aviation Redressal Association', which had pleaded the court to order the auctioning of an 18,000-square-metre plot leased to the Leela Group.

According to the PIL moved in Bombay High Court, the hotel initially paid a "paltry sum of Rs 2.2 lakh" as lease for the prime plot near Mumbai airport. The HC disposed of the plea last year by observing that issues of public auction couldnot be determined in a PIL, prompting the group to take it up with the country's top court.
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