Palike wants its public spaces back

In the aftermath of the Clarence School playground controversy, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to reacquire its properties that have been either in the shadow of violation, or whose lease period has expired.

There are at least 43 properties the Palike has identified for recovery. Their net worth, as per the guidance value, is about Rs 75 crore. But their market value could be around Rs 200 crore, say Palike sources.

“We have already taken some properties into our possession. In some cases, we have served notices to people holding such land. Soon, all the 43 properties will be recovered,” says BBMP Joint Commissioner (Estate) Mujibullah Jafari.

Having learnt a hard lesson from the Clarence School episode, the Palike has decided to conduct a fresh survey of all its playgrounds. As it has a shortage of surveyors, the BBMP has hired retired government employees who have so far identified 247 playgrounds, of which 149 have been notified for repossession.

The surveyors are visiting different locations in the City to take possession of Palike land.

The issue of BBMP properties worth crores of rupees leased out to many schools and institutions for a paltry sum had become a hot topic of debate when the Clarence School controversy came to the fore. To avoid such controversies in future, the Palike has uploaded on its website a list of all its leased properties with their survey numbers and other details.

As the real estate market boomed in Bangalore with a steep rise in land prices, Clarence School found itself in the eye of a storm for possessing 2.65 acres of land for a rent of 50 paise per annum for a ‘long’ period, which has not been defined yet. The actual value of an acre of the said land is around Rs 25 crore.

Local MLA Raghu says the objective of demolishing the ground’s compound wall was to widen the road, but doubts have been raised about the actual motive. Now that the MLA is in the soup following the registration of an FIR against him, the ruling BJP in the BBMP says the land was provided to be used only as a playground. However, the Palike website shows the school has not committed any violation.

When the matter of Clarence School came up for discussion in the BBMP Council, Palike Commissioner M K Shankarlinge Gowda said any property given on lease for a ‘long’ period does not mean “an indefinite period till the end of the world”.

“The Supreme Court has clearly laid down that any property given on lease for a long period should not be extended  for more than 33 years,” Gowda had told the last Council meeting.

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