Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gymkhana Clubs flout land lease rules

Annadale ground dispute with army in Shimla arbitration court
Ravinder Makhaik.

Not being able to dispossess the army authorities from the prized Annadale ground, the district administration has evoked an arbitration clause to resume a property that has been occupied by the army since 1955.
Talking to Hill Post, Onkar Sharma, deputy commissioner said, “Over 130 bighas of land at Annadale ground is under ownership of the government which on paper is recorded to be in possession of Gymkhana Club.”
“A lease signed between the government and the army authorities ended in 1982, and clause 4 in the lease agreement provides for arbitration should a dispute arise. We have evoked that arbitration clause before the divisional commissioner court at Shimla,” he added.
While the district administration has moved court, a signature campaign by the district cricket association (DCA) to get the ground vacated by the army has found tremendous support as over 75,000 till date have signed up.
“Annadale is the only big public ground in the state capital,” says Surinder Thakur, DCA president, “and the army should vacate it as the city desperately needs it.”
The association intends to collect 1 lakh signatures and submit a memorandum to defense minister AK Antony through state chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Relations between the state and the army authorities over the ground usage remain strained for the army even restricts helicopter landing facilities for civilian use on it.
Read more

A closer look at the Gymkhana clubs under scrutiny reveals:
The clubs have lease agreements for a period of 30 to 60 years. Defence lands— often huge tracts given to run the clubs to ensure "betterment of Members including the Garrison Officers". One needs to zero in on the terms and conditions of the lease agreements, which are grossly violated. These are: restricting public entry and use, discriminatory membership practices, non-payment of dues, non-submission of audited accounts and earning illegal revenue by letting out premises for weddings, parties, guest rooms and Guest fees. The Garrison Officers are relegated as second class members. The managements and Governing body owes an explanation to the nation for violating the Rules of the land. Even capital gains taxes are cleverly evaded.
Besides, the management and Governing Body are minting money by hiring out premises without paying a dime for tax. It's nothing but a robbery of citizens' resources, If these conserves of the privileged governing body can be brought to the negotiating table to renew their leases at reasonable rates and made to follow terms, the bigger battle of fighting corruption in high places can be won!

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