Wednesday, August 11, 2010


S Kushala & Manasi Paresh Kumar

South Bangalore’s hotpick in the social circuit — Cosmopolitan Club — is once again in the eye of a controversy. In recent years, the club has already been nailed for glaring violations in building construction and encroachment of adjacent land. Now it has come under the BBMP’s scanner for sub-letting its premises for commercial activities but not bothering to pay the civic body whatever is due to them.
According to documents in possession of Bangalore Mirror, the club makes over Rs 12 lakh a month but pays a lease amount of just Rs 1.3 lakh per year to the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for 61,041 sq ft prime land, situated bang on Jayanagar III block main road. The club has been enjoying high rentals from hotels, entertainment activities and a supermarket.
The BBMP has now realised that it too can demand a share of the club’s revenue. Claiming that it owns about 8,892.45 sq feet of land, BBMP officials are now figuring out how much the club owes them. With BBMP’s coffers empty, they are obviously looking to plug all leakages. With the club’s land becoming an ownership issue between BDA and BBMP, the authorities are of the opinion that “BDA has been enjoying revenue from the club which rightfully belongs us.’’
Cosmo history
BDA had allotted its civic amenity site number 22 in Jayanagar III block to Cosmopolitan Club on March 2, 1967 to construct “outdoor activities’’ for a lease of 30 years. The lease period expired on June 15, 2006. Subsequently, the club management applied for lease renewal. After a decision in the BDA board meeting, the lease was further extended from June 16, 2006 to June 15, 2030 for a lease amount of Rs 1.28 lakh for 61,041 sq ft.
However, the BBMP also claims to have original lease deed with the club — of 1983 for five years at a yearly amount of Rs 1,880. “After that, BDA took over the lease revenue and we are yet to find out how that happened. BBMP almost forgot about the issue and lost a substantial amount of revenue,’’ say BBMP officials.
But in 2003, BBMP woke up again to the ownership issue and the then council approved an outright sale of this property to the club, a decision which was shot down by the government. The BBMP was asked to lease out its portion to the club for about 40 years at the market rate. This was not acted upon however.
The “outdoor activities’’ for which the CA site was leased out to the club, did not remain just that. Today, Cosmopolitan Club is a big revenue earner by renting out its space for commercial activities.
H M Leisure’s agreement with the club on Oct 30, 2006 talks about a licence fee Rs 6.5 lakh per month for certain portions of space on ground, first, second floor and mezzanine floors, terrace areas, to put up bowling alley, bar, restaurant, indoor amusement equipment, leisure activities, sports related goods and video games.
The rider is that a 30 per cent discount on the dedicated two lanes in the alley has to be extended to the club members for bowling and 15 per cent on food and beverages.
The agreement entered into with Reliance Retail Ltd on Nov 18, 2006 puts the monthly rent at Rs 4,87,200. “The retail chain has the full liberty to conduct its business, cater to the needs of the club members, their families as well as outsiders.’’
Meanwhile, the club allegedly encroached upon adjacent land measuring 9000 sq ft and laid a tennis court. This, without BDA’s approval. Based on complaints, BDA officials inspected the premises in July 2009. The club subsequently applied for regularisation of the lease. Examining provisions in the law, BDA slapped a notice on April 23, 2010 asking the management to pay Rs 4,44,82,200 towards lease amount and penalty (retrospective effect).
Secretary Y K Muddukrishna said the club had a lease deed with BDA because the land ownership lies with them. “In the late nineties, there was an internal transfer of the land between the two departments,” he said. However, the former joint director of horticulture refused to comment on the issue of the club sub-letting its premises. “I cannot comment on the matter without going through the documents,” he said.


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