Parks are for public use and cannot be given to private parties. But in 2005, BDA gave away 1525 sq m of park site to Indiranagar Club. This was one of the examples of illegalities by the BDA, in a recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
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The site, located along 7th cross road of HAL 2nd stage layout, was adjoining the club, and is now within club premises. BDA gave the site on lease, on the condition that it will be maintained as a park, and that no permanent structures will be put up in the site.
But in 2007, the club management set up a bar in a gazebo built in the site. The site was originally a civic amenity site marked for park.
BDA sent two show cause notices to the club. The explanation given by the then-club President S C Burman, who was former city police commissioner, was not satisfactory and BDA cancelled the site allotment in 2008. Soon after, the club removed the bar lounge, and BDA revoked the cancellation. The site has been back with the club since then – the gazebo remains, but there is no bar.
Currently there are only some trees, the gazebo and an old children’s play area in the site. The club’s current President B N S Reddy says that a park is going to be developed in the site soon. Only club members can access the park.
The CA site shown in the layout map of HAL 2nd stage (click to see full size image), approved in the 70s. The map shows that the site was split into six for different purposes – maternity home, community welfare center, dispensary, nursery school, retail market and a park. Today, there is only Indiranagar Club, Indiranagar Sangeeth Sabha, a BWSSB office, and a part of the original park, in the site. If you know the details of how the plan evolved, tell us.
The CAG officer says, "Giving the site itself was a violation. BDA took the right step in cancelling the allotment in 2008, but again gave the site back."
The club’s current President B N S Reddy says that the lease conditions are not being violated now. "The lounge was there for only a few months. There are no permanent structures now." The club had paid Rs 18 lakh as lease amount for the site. "When we pay so much for the land, it is for our use. Otherwise why would we get the land for such money?"
The other part of the park, which measured 713 sq m, was allotted to Indiranagar Sangeeth Sabha located adjacent to the park. BDA officials say, on condition of anonymity, that the Sabha wanted the park site to be used for parking. Sabha officials were not ready to give details to Citizen Matters about the purpose for which the site is being used now. BDA officials are also unaware of the status of this land.
They say that the sites were allotted only for maintenance, like how private parties are allowed to take care of public parks. "When the club and sabha approached us directly, we had denied the application. But they were influential people, and finally we allotted the site based on orders from higher-ups," say BDA officials.
Film society given Rs 50 lakh concession
Suchitra Film Society in Banashankari stands in a 2400 sq m CA site that BDA had allotted it in 1979. At the time, the lump sum lease amount for 30 years was Rs 1.5 lakh. The lease for all CA sites should be renewed in 30 years. When the society renewed the lease in 2009, the lease amount had risen drastically, to about Rs 65 lakh.
The CAG report says that the BDA reduced the lease amount to Rs 15 lakh lump sum, based on directions of then-Chief Minister B S Yedyurappa. BDA lost Rs 50 lakh this way, but in he records it was shown that BDA had donated this amount to the society for setting up a cine academy. CAG report says that there is no provision by which BDA can donate money to a private trust.
Suchitra office bearers say that the society is a non-profit and could not afford to pay the full amount. Its trustee Prakash Belawadi says, "Suchitra is a cultural, not commercial, organisation. We have no income sources. It took us 6-8 months to meet many officers and the CM, and convince them to give us the waiver. It was not easy."
BDA gives no waivers in lease amounts to non-profits – regular lease rates apply to such institutions too.
K V R Tagore, Chairman of the trust, says, "All the infrastructure is built with donations from artists and art lovers. Since none of the activities here are charged, there is no revenue source." Tagore says that Trust is in fact seeking sponsorship from the government and others, to renovate the building. The Trust also works with government to promote education, Kannada culture etc.
Though government may be right in supporting non-profits, the problem here was that the way this was done, was illegal.