Demand for turning Mysore Race Club into lung space

Govt pushed for moving the club out of city and building park in its place

 Most of those opposing the renewal of land lease to the 125-year-old Mysore Race Club (MRC) are mainly aghast at what they call the “misuse” of 139 acres and 39 guntas of prime government land by a group of 250 members, most of whom are not even from Mysuru.

The critics feel the land can be developed into a much-needed lung space for the fast-growing city.  In 2010, when the club was operating without a valid agreement as the lease period had lapsed in 2006 (the lease was renewed only in 2011), there was a tussle for control over the land between the MRC and the Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club. The district administration suggested shifting the race course out of the city. The then deputy commissioner, P Manivannan, proposed a green project that would boost both environment and tourism. He wrote to the revenue principal secretary, seeking conversion of land into a botanical garden like the one in Ooty.

He urged the government to consider moving the racing and golfing activities to a location near the Mysore airport, according to a retired senior bureaucrat.

Even another deputy commissioner Harsh Gupta pushed for the green project, which envisages either merger of the land with the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Garden for expansion of the menagerie or establishment of an independent botanical garden, the retired official added. The government can sanction land for the race club on the outskirts of Mysuru, if needed. The race course was on the outskirts of the city when established, at Kurubarahalli, at the foot of Chamundi Hills, he said.

The authorities sought to use the space as a buffer zone to preserve the ecology of the hill, environmentalists argue.

Origins of the club

Racing started in Mysuru under the Wadiyar kings in 1891. During the rule of Chamaraja Wadiyar X, horse racing began near Kebbe Katte Bungalow on the outskirts of the city. The existing race course, at the foot of Chamundi Hills, was built by Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1906. But racing activities continued at Kebbe Katte Bungalow till 1920.

Initially, racing was restricted to six race days under the Royal Calcutta Turf Club. Those days, all clubs in India were affiliated to the Royal Calcutta Turf Club, which was in turn affiliated to Jockey Club of England.

In 1968, Mysore Race Club was formed and races were held under the Bangalore Turf Club rules. The land was originally owned by the maharajas and was leased to the club for Rs 40,000 a year.

The club later bought the land. The government acquired the land in 1976 and leased it to the club for 30 years, with a provision for revision of lease amount every five years. The lease ended in 2006. Once again, in 2011, the lease was extended for 10 years, with effect from 2006. So, the club has functioned without any authorisation from 2006 to 2011.

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