BENGALURU: Bengaluru’s centrally-located club, Bowring Institute, found itself in a sticky spot after being asked to relinquish 150x100 sq.ft space for violating conditions imposed by the government. According to government officials, the land has been sub-leased to a petrol bunk from which they have earned substantial amounts. But Bengalureans who have been watching the drama unfold, wonder why the government has been eyeing this prime property, instead of looking into matters crying for attention.
Writer, actor and standup comedienne Rubi Chakravarti questions as to what took officials this long to wake up to this issue. “When there’s so much illegally-acquired land, why are they after this prime property? The public needs to have a clear idea about their plan of action. It can’t be another garbage dump,” she says.
Chakravarti suggests that considering the surrounding area – Church Street, Vittal Mallya Road and St Mark’s Road – don’t have parking spaces – it can be turned into a multi-level parking lot. “Something on the lines of Singapore, I’m sure the ministers are aware about it through their study tours,” she says on a lighter note.
Terming the situation ‘absurd’, business consultant Zaki Khaleeli opined that for the last 50 years the government has been receiving rent, and now want it returned. “This is just like an attempt to take back the club’s land a couple of years ago. They wanted to take the entire club back claiming it was their property. Then, the case went to England and from their archives they found that the property belongs to the club itself,” he said.
On the tussle, traffic expert and former advisor to the government, M N Srihari, felt the club which was started by the British for recreational purposes should have been returned to the state post their departure. “In this case, the records state it belongs to the Institute. A portion of the land can be taken by the government for the development of public interest but only for road and infrastructural purposes.”
Srihari further stated that the government would have to compensate with the guided value in this case and the requirement of fuelling stations wouldn’t be required as the country looks to move on to electrical means of transport in the future. “If the matter is problematic to the petrol bunk owner, then case can be taken to court in order to draw a decision from a higher body,” said Srihari.
A member of the club, on condition of anonymity, pointed out that the initial agreement made between Bowring Institute and the state government said that 60 per cent of the lease rent had to be given to the government. “That has been happening from day one. Now, the government is asking for hundred percent lease rent with interest, which is unfair. The club has all the documents to prove their stand,” said the member.