Now, you can live like a prince in Rajasthan

Many of the nazool properties, which according to the government estimate number around 8,000, now are being used as state-run schools, hospitals or offices. But maintaining these huge forts and havelis involves a lot of money and many are in a dilapidated condition in the absence of maintenance. The Ashok Gehlot government has come up with an idea of public-private-partnership model to raise money and at the same time pass on the responsibility of maintaining these properties in the hands of private parties.

Sources said the potential revenue from selling such properties could be around Rs 500 crore. Real estate agents put the approximate price of at least one fort at Rs 4-5 crore considering the escalation in land cost.

According to the proposal, foreigners can also lap up these properties, provided they have a local partner.

Under the scheme, a special committee will examine the disposal of the properties. In the two-stage auction process proposed, the bids will be first evaluated on the basis of a bidder’s experience, financial standing and management capability. Then further bids will be invited from those shortlisted.

“The government’s decision is welcome and a very good way to preserve our heritage in decay,” said Vikram Singh Randhawa, general secretary, Rajasthan Heritage Hotels Association.

The committee will finally decide final bidder of the property. The government has so far put up three properties for sale. They are the Sarwad Fort, Badnor Fort and the Shahbad Fort. 

The 18th century Sarwad Fort in Ajmer district, with a built-up area of 4,607sqm, has the potential of being turned into a 50-room heritage hotel, according to sources.

The 9th century Shahbad Fort in Baran district, with 8,000 sq m of built-up area, can be turned into a 40-room hotel.

Badnor Fort, in Bhilwara district, built atop a hillock over a 7,865 sqm area, is a majestic five-storey structure that can house 60-65 hotel rooms.

The government is expecting a good response for the new “user-friendly” scheme, which promises a single-window clearance system. However, Randhawa said the re-launched scheme, too, had not been marketed well.      “The first time, it failed to take off for not being user-friendly. The paperwork and leasing may be fine, but the business people who may be interested are not even aware of the re-launch. The idea needs to be marketed well,”  he added.

The sell-off scheme had earlier sparked a controversy. During the Vasundhara Raje Scindia regime, her friend and former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi had bought two havelis – one for Rs 21 lakh and the other for Rs 9 lakh in Jaipur’s Amber area. It later turned out that the people who sold them did not own the land and the government claiming it to be its own repossessed the havelis.

The actual cost of these two properties, which the government has sealed, could run into crores, it was argued.

But if the sell-off scheme works out, it could unlock the cultural and commercial potential of a huge slice of Rajasthan.

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