If you are a Nationalist you will protect public property
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

If you are a Nationalist you will protect public property

March 25, 2019

Recently when I read a report about the famed Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry my thoughts went rambling about our country getting independence after Muslim and British rule of over a 1,000 years. The suffering and denials of our people and then the euphoria of getting freedom, though at the cost of the division of the country. I was seven-years-old then and grew up under the belief that it was going to be a country of no sufferings nor of denials. Now 72 years on, my hopes were belied.

Who is responsible for this dismal state of our country? Since we are a democracy we have to blame ourselves because it is we who choose our rulers and the rulers appoint the bureaucracy. Till such time our voters are nationalists, patriotic, wise and honest, we will not get wise and honest Ministers and Bureaucrats.

Having said this, let me come to the Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry. Readers of newspapers in Mysuru know its history and its iconic presence in the heart of the city on a 10-acre land with roads on all four sides and another iconic hotel, built by that legendary Sir M. Visvesvaraya, Metropole Hotel, across the JLB Road.

As I know, this Choultry has been a cash-cow for whichever Committee managed it or whoever was its Manager. I used to get reports and complaints of corruption, misuse of the premises and arbitrary leasing of the open land for pittance of ground rent. Though its management was under the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) with the Deputy Commissioner (DC) having administrative powers, there was much scope for looting the property in various ways. In fact, at the request  of some well-meaning people who loved this city, I had spoken to two DCs about the issues connected with this Choultry with some relief.

I was amused to read that the major donor for this Choultry was a royalty, Nanjaraja Bahadur, a son from the 10th wife of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III. Built in 1890, the cost of the building when completed was Rs. 63,547 of which Nanjaraja Bahadur gave Rs. 50,000. Except for the name and an old photograph which I had seen hung inside (I wonder if it is still there) there was no statue or bust of the donor.

It is learnt the bust of Nanjaraja Bahadur (see pic. above) was installed in 1992 when Siddaiah was the Deputy Commissioner and late K. Harshakumar Gowda was the MLA.

Now the President of the present Managing Committee C. Krishnappa has decided to take possession of the land leased to Kings Kourt Hotel, facing JLB Road 40 years ago and invite fresh bids. Wonder whatever the status of other lands leased likewise.

This is one land for which there was cut-throat competition from entrepreneurs, businessmen and politicians, so much so Court cases were also filed.

I learn providentially a large part of the land has remained with the Choultry, with the aspirants and mafia unable to grab the land so far. Now I am told our present Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has promised to give all the vacant land to the Maharani’s College for its expansion, the land being close to the existing college on JLB Road. How wise and environmentally correct this decision is, we do not know. Already there were so many buildings — Vartha Bhavan, Government Employees’ Building, Weigh Bridge, Petrol Bunk, Veterinary Hospital, a garage etc., etc. Earlier, there was a Beggars’ Home also. Therefore, it would be best to turn the land available into a parking area or a Green Park — a lung space in the crowded down-town area. Enough is enough. Once a land is leased or a building comes up on that land, it is  difficult to get it back, more so with so many laws, lawyers and law courts.

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What we are witnessing at this Choultry is the manner we manage our public property. Those entrusted with the responsibility of managing and developing such properties use their position into an opportunity to make money or favour friends either by  leasing, selling or renting the property contrary to the interest of the public and wishes of the donors or owners of the property.

Take for example our Mysore University property of Manasagangothri. Where was the need for giving a portion of the land facing Hunsur Road (near Paduvarahalli) for a petrol bunk? We do not know if other private parties are given land likewise.

I remember Mysore Race Club (MRC) Managing Committee members inviting Siddharamaiah, the then Deputy Chief Minister and also the Finance Minister, for a dinner at the Club House to request him to allot the 4.5 acres of land in front of MRC Club House (where Mall of Mysore and Radisson Blu Plaza 5-Star Hotel now stands) for the MRC for its expansion. Mercifully, Siddharamaiah did not bother.

Later, many politicians and land mafia ventured to get it by means fair and foul from MUDA which had taken possession of the land after vacating the illegal and legal occupants.

Fortunately for the good of our city, the then MUDA Commissioner managed to invite international bids and was able to sell it for about Rs. 22 crore. Incidentally, this one sale led to the sky-rocketing of real estate price in and around Mysuru city. I am also a beneficiary of this sudden rise in real estate price.

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Prof. M. Madaiah, Vice- Chancellor, Mysore University (1991-1997), once told me that he was surprised to find many real estate properties of the University being lost or encroached upon by squatters. Apparently the University Estate Officer, if there is one, did not do his job well in protecting the properties.

Prof. Madaiah specially mentioned of two buildings in Chickpet, Bengaluru, donated to the University by philanthropists which were illegally occupied and how he managed to get those properties back. But, one wonders if they are still with the University. Present VC Prof. Hemantha Kumar may do well to check.

Recently Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had laid the foundation for some civil works on a 22-acre property of Mysore University at the foot of Chamundi Hill on the main road near the Arch Gate (close to SDM-Institute for Management Development). This land too was brought under a Court case by the land sharks and it was Prof. Madaiah who got it registered in the name of the University. This land was given to the University by the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH) in exchange for the land it had taken from the University at Manasagangothri. This 22-acre land was sanctioned by the Government to AIISH long back but AIISH decided to exchange it. Who knows, but for Prof. Madaiah’s initiative the mafia would have grabbed the land.

Now take the case of Metropole Hotel. It was run by the London Ritz Group on international standards for many decades. Then one day many covetous eyes of our politician-businessmen fell on this Hotel. The Government refused to renew the lease. Thereafter, the matter went to Court and finally the Government won. But the Hotel remained closed for many years, the building became dilapidated, hundreds of workers lost their jobs. Government too lost crores of rupees by way of tax. But nobody seemed to bother. Apparently, men in power have ceased to be nationalists and patriots. Finally the PWD restored the building and it was given to a reputed hotel group Royal Orchid owned by Balji. Thank God.

It was the same fate for the Brindavan Garden Hotel at KRS. It was also revived and given to Royal Orchid Group.

If this is the story of Government properties in Mysuru, one may imagine what would be the fate of similar Government properties all over Karnataka, nay India.

If we love our country, we must take responsibility to protect and develop public properties. Otherwise we would be using our motherland for personal  exploitation which is detrimental  to our country’s economic progress and development. Definitely, an anti-national conduct. Jai Hind.

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4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “If you are a Nationalist you will protect public property”

  1. Manava says:

    “The suffering and denials of our people and then the euphoria of getting freedom, though at the cost of the division of the country. I was seven-years-old then and grew up under the belief that it was going to be a country of no sufferings nor of denials. Now 72 years on, my hopes were belied”
    “grew up under the belief that it was going to be a country of no sufferings nor of denials”
    The delusion most Indians suffered from thanks to the effective brain washing of political leaders then. At least for 200 years under the British merit was recognised, and there was no societal and institutional corruption. For Mysuru, the British after defeating that thug Tipu Sultan let Wadiyars run the State, until independence.

    “Who is responsible for this dismal state of our country? Since we are a democracy we have to blame ourselves because it is we who choose our rulers and the rulers appoint the bureaucracy. Till such time our voters are nationalists, patriotic, wise and honest, we will not get wise and honest Ministers and Bureaucrats”
    People, the voters, elected the corrupt politicians, and in the past 50 years of 72 years after independence, the society being corrupt and as society is formed of people, no wonder they have been electing corrupt politicians. It is a dismal fact that there is no honest politician left today. The deterioration was set so fast within just a decade after independence, I remember as an youngster. Kengal set the scene with his Vidhana Soudha project, in which he let contractors rake in money and it was rumoured he benefited too. You cannot expect this corrupt nation and society to produce voters who are: ” nationalists, patriotic, wise and honest,

  2. Bhamy V Shenoy says:

    KBG’s timely article clearly proves the often mentioned truth that price of democracy is eternal vigilance. Article while shocking is equally sad the way our city loses some priceless heritage jewels.

    I am just reading a wonderful book by Rafiq Zakaria, “Man Who Divided India”. It reminded me of what KBG has written in his article.

    Do we Mysoreans take our duty as living in a democracy? KBG has done a great service by pointing out how the so called leaders – in politics and business, NGO space- become land mafia. If one spends just few minutes with our former ever approachable MLA Vasu, he would also give a long list of properties leaders are after.

    Now that SOM has brought these shenanigans to our attention what can be done? Do we have a strong movement or socially conscious activists or NGOs who take up these socially relevant tasks? And when some NGOs like MGP take up such projects (saving of People’s Park, Preventing Vandalization of Chamundi Hills, preserving Kukkerhalli Lake etc, how many get involved?

    Let us start a debate at least in cyber space to act on what KGB has pleaded for.

    • Manava says:

      “And when some NGOs like MGP take up such projects (saving of People’s Park, Preventing Vandalization of Chamundi Hills, preserving Kukkerhalli Lake etc, how many get involved?”
      The reason that this ‘Grahachara’ outfit is all talk and no action on the ground is that it has a bunch of retired men ( not heard of a single woman there!), some of whom retired after working in Mysuru, and stayed in Mysuru,where as a few others coming from elsewhere, found Mysuru to be a retiree’s place; both bunch needing something to occupy their time. It has not developed in a mass movement, precisely for this reason. Just a talking shop, which has failed to attract young Mysoreans to make it a mass movement but remaining-a top down ranters congregation of retirees!
      From time to time’ the retired men from this Grahachara’ outfit rant about something or the other to register their presence in the cyberspace; recently, the rant was about so called heritage jewels like Lansdowne building which shop owners deserted over 3 decades ago, considering it unsuitable for modern shopping experience with the broom cupboard dimensional shop spaces there, or ,like Devaraja Market, which priced itself out due to steep rises in leases and rents, and hence the shop owners there voting out with their feet, jealously looking at the agile and competitive street market vendors springing up in every extension in the expanded Mysuru; this Market created when Mysuru was a compact small city, found itself no longer fit for purpose.
      Bhamy even suggested a barmy idea of developing this Market into a world class ‘Grand Bazaar’ , one sees in Istanbul which is a gateway to East and West, in Mysuru’ not even having a proper airport! Even the Russell Market in Bengaluru, a really heritage jewel cannot claim itself a potential ‘Grand Bazaar’, in that international City! From this kind of delusional thinking, it is no wonder the MGP is merely a talking shop for retired old men, and is conveniently ignored by young Mysoreans!!

  3. Anil says:

    “Till such time our voters are nationalists, patriotic, wise and honest, we will not get wise and honest Ministers and Bureaucrats.”
    What has this topic about Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry got to do with this statement? Isn’t it the civic responsibilities of our citizens, Leaders and the Esteemed Press that could have driven the needed attention to fix the problems mentioned in the article? From the article, it sounds, SOM was aware of the problems for many years but it took many years to write and bring the attention. Questioning the Patriotism on everything has become a fashion these days, my loved evening news paper Star of Mysore is in that Fashionable path I guess.

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Mysuru's favorite and largest circulated English evening daily has kept the citizens of Mysuru informed and entertained since 1978. Over the past 39 years, Star of Mysore has been the newspaper that Mysureans reach for every evening to know about the happenings in Mysuru city. The newspaper has feature rich articles and dedicated pages targeted at readers across the demographic spectrum of Mysuru city. With a readership of over 2,50,000 Star of Mysore has been the best connection between it's readers and their leaders; between advertisers and customers; between Mysuru and Mysureans.