BENGALURU: The iconic Puttana Kanagal theatre was razed to the ground and one out of four proposed Blocks was constructed in Jayanagar Shopping Complex by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) in August 2016. With a combination of factors contributing to the shopkeepers refusing to move in there even temporarily, BDA wants Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) which has owned and maintained the property over the years to take over the entire project.
Several factors have resulted in a stalemate at this popular shopping complex in the 4th Block, inaugurated in 1974, which shopkeepers here proudly refer to as ‘South India’s first mall.’
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad told Express that he had received a letter from BDA requesting that BBMP take over the shopping complex project fully. “They have spent Rs 56 crore to construct one block and have requested BBMP to pay them the sum. We will be tabling it in the upcoming Council meet,” he said.
The Commissioner added that it was the Council that took the decision to hand over the construction of the entire complex to BDA some years ago, and hence it needs to take a final decision.
According to top BDA officials, the renovation of the landmark complex was decided upon as a joint venture by the two civic agencies in 2012.“BDA was to construct five-storeyed complex here. The cost was estimated to be around Rs 250 crore and the authority would get back its investment through rents for a 20 or 30 year period. It was to be handed over to BBMP after that.”
Even after handing it over, the rent from 25% of the shops and maintenance of them would be given to BDA and the remainder would be entrusted to the BBMP.So, why exactly are the shopkeepers refusing to move in? K Suresh, Secretary of the Jayanagar Shopping Complex Merchants Association says that unless a written agreement or MoU is signed by the BDA with the shopkeepers, they are in no mood to vacate their existing place. “We have agreed to move out temporarily to the new block so that they can construct another block here. However, we need a guarantee from the BDA that our block would be completed within a one-year period and a written commitment on the rent that would be fixed for the new shops.”
The Secretary stated that in meetings chaired by BBMP, BDA officials, MLA B Vijayakumar and former Bangalore Development Minister Ramalinga Reddy over the years, it was agreed upon that the regular shops would pay Rs 50 per square foot while vegetable shops would pay Rs 40 per square foot. “BDA has still not given us the agreement, he added.G Ramu, owner of Annapuraneshwari Fruit Shop, says they were willing to move in only if the shops were numbered sequentially and allotted properly.
How did the number of shops increase,asks MLA
Jayanagar MLA B Vijayakumar is upset over the alleged lethargy of the civic agencies. “When the proposal to raze the Puttanna Kanagal theatre was made, I personally met actors Vishnuvardhan who was alive then, Tara and other big names in the Kannada film industry and convinced them about the move. I assured them that two theatres and an auditorium that can seat 1,500 people would come up. It is yet to happen,” he said. The MLA charged both the BBMP and BDA with “not executing the project seriously.” He alleged that 230 shops figure in the final list readied by BBMP instead of the existing 174. “Additional shops have been introduced by BBMP for allotment in the readied complex due to pressure from various quarters,” he said.The Merchants Association maintains that there are only 166 shops presently. Vijayakumar added, “I have written to BBMP and BDA that I will take them to Court if the allotment is made for these shops which figure without any bid or tendering being done. “Hence, both the agencies are worried about proceeding further,” he added.