Lal Chowk beautification to facilitate Palladium land grab
Srinagar, Mar 22: The ongoing narrowing of the historic Lal Chowk is expected to the facilitate the Palladium land deal with the “influential family” as the landscaping of the main road in the area would end the scope of any future road-widening.
Greater Kashmir has learnt from reliable sources that some quarters in the State Government want the Lal Chowk beautification funds be utilized in such a way that it lures the “blue-eyed” family to go for a bargain on the prime land under the rundown Palladium cinema structure.
According to sources, the Government’s proposed move is aimed at killing two birds with a stone. One the one hand, erstwhile Palladium surroundings would look beautiful and force the Palladium cinema ‘owners’ agree to reduce their share in the proposed joint venture deal with the government for construction of a multiplex on the site. Second, it would end the historic significance of Lal Chowk where apart from the NC founder, late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru have addressed public gatherings.
Since NC came to power in January 2009, sources said, some in the party had been advocating that the land be used to realize Sheikh’s dream of road widening to bring the twin commercial hubs of Budshah Chowk and Lal Chowk closer. But those in favour of the Palladium deal
want to end this debate once for all through narrowing of the historic road.
THE PALLADIUM DEAL
For the past many years the former lessees of the then Palladium cinema, who ran the show business till the eruption of militancy in Kashmir, want the land be to leased back to them.
In early ‘90s, the family had lost the lease rights on the land measuring around two kanals when the lease expired and they didn’t go for its timely renewal, if any applicable. In the meantime, the Palladium Cinema building was gutted in a fire.
Afterwards, the government handed over the site land to the Srinagar Development Authority. Officials said given the shortage of car parking in the area, the SDA had proposed to use the land as a parking lot.
“But the SDA’s plan couldn’t take off as the paramilitary CRPF troopers camping in the building refused to vacate it,” said a former vice-chairman of the SDA.
Since then the lessee family had been lobbying with some officials to get back the possession of the land.
The negotiations between the Government and the lessee party had geared up during the Governor’s rule of 2008.
And finally in September 2009, as per reliable sources, the government had almost agreed to go for construction of a multiplex on the land on a joint venture basis.
But due to some technical hitches the joint venture proposal couldn’t take off. The influential family besides eyeing 50:50 partnership, intended to mortgage the government land to generate bank loans for the mega project.
But the government, as per sources didn’t accept to mortgaging the land and asked the family to generate finances for construction of the multiplex out of their own resources. The negotiations are still believed to be on.
LAL CHOWK FACELIFT
As a goodwill gesture, in January this year, the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah granted Rs 2 crore for the facelift of the commercial hub - Lal Chowk.
But the authorities planned the development in such a way that it beautified the Palladium surroundings. But as landscaping middle of the road is going choke Lal Chowk further, the move draw flak from various quarters.
(To be concluded)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 22 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 22 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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