PALLADIUM SITE UP FOR GRABS
Govt Constructing Multiplex In JV With Non-Local Family
Srinagar, Jan 2: Notwithstanding the pressing need to decongest the city centre Lal Chowk, the government plans to lease out the prize site of erstwhile Palladium Cinema, proposed to be parking lot, to a non-local family for construction of a shopping mall, on partnership basis.
Earlier, in 2005, the then state government had to shelve a similar plan regarding the proposed site, fearing public outcry.
But this time round, there’s a twist in the story. Unlike in the past, when the non-local family had been doing the rounds of the government offices to seek favour for the possession of land, the present government, according to sources, has initiated the move of approaching the family for the Palladium land deal.
Greater Kashmir has learnt from reliable sources that the Housing and Urban Development Department has started bargaining with the family to get the issue resolved at the earliest so that work is started on the ‘joint-venture project.’
THE PALLADIUM FAMILY
The non-local family with which the government plans the tie-up is the same Singh family, which ran Palladium Cinema before the turmoil in the Valley. The erstwhile talkie was constructed on government land, leased to the family. But in late 90’s the family had abandoned the business and soon after the cinema hall was gutted in a devastating fire. Eventually the leasehold rights of the non-local family over the land expired and the two brothers, who were partnering the cinema business, lost the rights over the land.
Since then the site is occupied by the paramilitary forces while its proprietary rights are vested with the Srinagar Development Authority (SDA).
BLOW FOR KOKER BAZAR
The adjoining, heritage market of Koker Bazaar, which used to be a hub of business activities particularly handicrafts, has been losing sheen for the past over a decade due to non-availability of parking.
The traders of the area complain that the shoppers shy away from visiting Koker Bazar due to non-availability of parking facility in and around the market.
“Now our only hope to revive the business was if Palladium site was converted into the parking lot,” said Fayaz Ahmed Sofi, a trader of Koker Bazaar area.
Fayaz, flanked by many other traders said, they have many a times approached the Housing and Urban Development Department for conversion of the Palladium site into a parking lot.
“But our pleas were trashed,” they alleged.
Sofi accused successive regimes of being instrumental in the downfall of the heritage market.
“Koker Bazaar is an extension of Shahr-e-Khaas. Under a conspiracy, like Shahr-e-Khaas, this market is being subjected to ruins,” he said adding the same treatment was meted out to the Maharaj Gunj market.
BACKGROUND ON PALLADIUM DEAL
Official documents reveal that in 2005, the SDA Board on the instructions of the then government had resolved to lease out the land to a non-local “blue-eyed” family.
In the board meet held on May 30th 2005, the SDA had resolved that the land deal be inked. “The construction of the commercial complex in a joint venture with the ex-lessees was approved in principal,” read the resolution of the SDA Board meet.
“The terms and conditions of the joint venture be negotiated with the ex –lessees and a comprehensive proposal on self-financing basis be put up to the Minister for H&UDD for consideration and thereafter an agreement shall be executed with the ex-lessee for the development of the complex,” it added.
But following a major controversy in 2006 when the Gulmarg land lease plans were exposed by media, the then government reportedly shelved the Palladium plan as well.
NEW GOVT ADAMANT
The present government seems adamant to construct a mall in partnership with the non-local family on the land.
The Minister of State for H&UDD and local MLA Nasir Sogami confirmed the partnership proposal. Be he had a self-satisfying excuse to plead the government stand.
“We can’t always make parking lots,” he argued.
“It’s a prime location. We can’t waste it. No City has done that,” he added.
Nasir said the parking problem would be overcome by creating multi-storeyed parking lots elsewhere with a capacity of around 2000 vehicles.
But he doesn’t want any multi-storeyed parking facility at Palladium site.
However, there’s a problem with his parking plans for elsewhere. He admits the government doesn’t have requisite capital. For that too he looks ahead for private partnership.
“We will look for private partnership to construct multi-layered parking lots,” he told Greater Kashmir.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Jan 2010 00:00:00 IST
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