Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Govt backtracks on Turf Club

Govt backtracks on Turf Club
Bangalore, Dec 15, DHNS

The State government on Tuesday informed the High Court it would not take any steps to precipitate the issue over shifting of the Bangalore Turf Club and that its earlier fiat on moving it out of the City limits –– December 31, 2009 –– stood rescinded.

The BTC management and staff associations had challenged the shifting of the race course, contending that they had obtained an absolute grant in place as long as they conducted racing. Justice Ajit Gunjal adjourned further hearing on the matter to January 13.

Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli submitted that the government will not take any precipitative action related to the shifting of the club, a step which may disrupt the races. He further submitted that the government was looking for alternative land — if not a plot in Chikkajala — and was open to discussions on it.

The petitioners submitted that the race course has been in existence in the City since the 1860s and the land grant, which was absolute, would hold good as long as racing continued.

They also contended that the authorities had changed it as lease and the alternate site suggested by the government had some problem with a public interest litigation filed before the Supreme Court.

They indicated that environmental issues were involved in the process of shifting the BTC to another location.

They submitted that laying a race course that would match international standards would take three to five years, but the authorities were threatening to stop power supply.

They pointed out that huge stakes were involved in racing, including upkeep of at least 1,000 horses and providing salary to 5,000 employees.

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