Of Palladium deal and Lal Chowk beautification
This refers to the two news items and the editorial in Greater Kashmir (March 23 and March 24) regarding the Palladium Cinema site. The news items have caused the apprehensions among the general public that SDA is going for any shady deal on the Palladium site. Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of State for Housing are also concerned about such uncorroborated news reports.
I am accordingly furnishing a statement of facts. Srinagar Development Authority has by virtue of Government Order No. REV (NDK) 156 of 1999 Dated: 25-08-1999 received the property, popularly known as “Palladium Cinema” in the Lal Chowk area of the Srinagar city.
SDA, however, could not utilize the said property due to the order of status quo issued by the Hon’ble High Court in WP No. 486/99 titled Manmohan Singh Gori v/s State and others.
It has been the view of the SDA that the property should be utilized not only in the interest of the Authority but also for the reason that it is an ‘obnoxious’ gutted structure presenting a very ugly look of, otherwise, a very historical place. It is an urge of the SDA that this ‘obnoxious’ sight is removed and be properly utilized keeping in view the pressing requirements of the urban transportation, public facilities and of course the interest of SDA. But, this does not mean that SDA or any other Authority is bent upon for “sell-out” of the property. It is a fact that one of the lessees is agitating the matter in the High Court and SDA may have explored the possibility of listening to the ex-lessee, but none should harbor this apprehension that SDA or any Authority would compromise the interests of the State.
It is only 29-10-2009 that the Deputy Chief Minister (Chairman SDA) reiterated the Government’s stand by the instructions that he recorded on the concerned file: The instructions are quoted verbatim to remove any apprehensions that the Government is going to lease it again:
“In view of expiry of the lease period, taking over of possession by SDA and also opinion of the Law Department indicated at para-44, the litigant (ex-lessee) has no claim over the said property. The SDA should vigorously pursue the matter in the court of law to get the matter disposed.”
The matter is being vigorously pursued in the High Court and in this regard, SDA has sought additional legal help by engaging one more counsel in the matter. The instructions issued by the Deputy Chief Minister as quoted above, unambiguously, clarify the Government’s stand on the subject matter and this should lay the controversy to rest. The Lal Chowk beautification can’t be linked with the Palladium Cinema site, as it (Palladium site) can’t be the part of any plan as of now due to the fact that the High Court has directed to maintain status-quo on the site. We have to be patient and wait for Court verdict in the matter.
Kifayat Hussain Rizvi, KAS
GK Correspondent replies
Your response has, to a large extent, vindicated our stories on the Palladium land grab by an “influential family”, except that you have tried to convey that the reports and editorial “caused the apprehensions among the general public that SDA is going for any shady deal.” For reasons of ethics, which GK firmly believes in, we had deliberately not published some of the facts in our reports. But now that you have opened the Pandora's Box, let’s set the records right. Firstly you yourself admitted: “SDA may have explored the possibility of listening to the ex-lessee.” What was so confidential about the out-of-Court “listening” when the case is already before the Court of law?
Secondly, some two months after the deputy Chief Minister wrote on the file that the case be fought “vigorously”, his colleague in a January report hinted an out-of-Court of settlement with the “influential family”. And to appraise you, we haven’t closed the Palladium chapter because of your advertisement or mail response. Like always, we firmly stand by our reports. Moreover, the narrowing of the historic Lal Chowk has reasons to be linked with the erstwhile Palladium Cinema site because despite stiff public resentment, some in the government are beautifying the Palladium surroundings even though this road narrowing in the name of landscaping is chocking the heart of the City.
Lastly, the SDA never executed the instructions of the then Chief Minister to amend the outcome of the 68th SDA Board meet, which had sought that there be no scope of deal with the ex-lessees. Thank you for letting us elaborate what we hadn’t published.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 31 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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