BANGALORE: After architects, artists and citizens strongly opposed the proposal to demolish Balabrooie Guest House, the state government is showing some concern about other heritage buildings in the city.
District-in-charge minister Ramalinga Reddy told City Express the BBMP would be directed to stop mortgaging and demolishing heritage buildings.
For the cash-strapped Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagra Palike (BBMP), an easy way to raise loans is by mortgaging heritage buildings. It has taken loans by pledging many properties, including K R Market, Russel Market and Johnson Market. But now, the government wants to put an end to this practice.
When asked whether the government would help the BBMP financially, Reddy said the municipal corporation had already taken loans of up to `7,000 crore from various sources. "Let them clear these loans first," he said.
The BBMP mortgaged K R Market in January 2012 to obtain a loan of `480 crore from Housing and Urban Development Corporation (Hudco). It has also mortgaged Russel Market and Johnson Market.
A senior BBMP official, who did not wish to reveal his identity, said the municipal corporation was helpless. "The Palike has to pay more than ` 1,500 crore to its contractors. The chief minister is insisting we mobilise our own resources. We can only pledge our properties to get loans. We are paying close to `750 crore as interest along with the principal every year, and this means almost `2 crore a day," he revealed.
This January, the BBMP had set out to pledge Town Hall to a nationalised bank for a loan of `200 crore. Canara Bank's deputy general manager had even written a letter to the BBMP commissioner and agreed to take the property as security for the proposed loan. The bank had asked for copies of documents related to the properties. This evoked criticism from various people including councillors and the BBMP authorities had to withdraw the plan.
On a positive note, the BBMP has taken up the challenge of renovating Town Hall by spending `5 crore. The plan includes changing the seats, replacing the roof and adding air-conditioning. The work is expected to be completed by December.
Opposition leader Manjunath Reddy believes that pledging of heritage properties is a bad practice adopted by the BJP, the party currently running the affairs at BBMP.
"They are presenting a budget close to `10,000 crore while the actual fund mobilisation is just `5,000 crore. This has led to financial indiscipline," he said.