Mysuru/Mysore: A new controversy over land is brewing in the heart of the city as the South Western Railway (SWR) Divisional Office in Mysuru is eyeing the two-acre prime land adjacent to the Railway Station for its expansion plans.
This issue has, however, ruffled the feathers of Congressmen as the land has been leased out to the party and it has grand plans to expand the present Congress Office to house a big hall and VIP accommodation. Sometime back, the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) had written to the Railway Board and the Union Government, seeking the land.
The land is located near Dasappa Circle, where four roads meet — Dhanvanthri Road, Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai (JLB) Road and KRS Road. The stretch is usually crowded as there is constant movement of passengers boarding and alighting trains and also there is a permanent feature of autos waiting for passengers and buses picking up and dropping off passengers. The ever-busy stretch becomes a bottleneck when any event is held in the Congress Office.
Pressure on space
The City Railway Station handles more than 45 trains every day and there is severe pressure on space. Wanting to expand and provide additional passenger amenities, the Railway officials are seeking the two-acre land to construct a passenger subway that connects the junction to the Railway Station and reserve the above space for parking.
A few years back, DRM Rajkumar Lal had written to the Railway Board and the Government seeking the ownership over the land. Sources said that the present DRM Aparna Garg too is pursuing the matter with the higher officials. However, top Railway officials were not available for their reaction this morning as the officials, including the DRM, are in Hubballi for a Division-level meeting.
Sources also said that the Railway officials are also seeking the land next to the Railway Museum near CFTRI Gate. More than 55,000 people arrive and depart the Railway Station daily and the land is required to expand the facilities for passenger convenience, say Railway sources.
This move has, however, irked the Congressmen who are not ready to part with the prime land.
Speaking to Star of Mysore this morning, City Congress President R. Murthy said that the land was leased out to Congress for 99 years in 1965 by the then CITB (City Improvement Trust Board), now Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA). The CITB was then headed by H. Kempegowda.
“Trusts were formed under Congress leaders including Chandraprabha Urs and Azeez Sait and now the land is with the party. We have a building now and we have plans to build a big hall and VIP accommodations in the land and the project is worth Rs. 6 crore. We have submitted the building plan to Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) for approval and we have paid a plan approval fee of Rs. 5 lakh,” he said.
Murthy added that the Congress will remain the absolute owner of the land till the 99-year lease expires. “There is no question of handing over the land to the Railways and we will fight the move. Let the Railways use their land effectively and comprehensively and stop eyeing our land. Moreover, the issue has to be decided by the Centre and State Governments,” he said.
Going by the 99-year lease term, the lease period ends in 2064 and still 44 years are remaining for the lease to end. It is not, however, known if the Government will renew the lease or hand it over to a public cause.
MUDA Commissioner P.S. Kantharaj told SOM that the land has been given to Congress party for 99 years. “As of now we do not have any communication regarding the land or its ownership. It is now with Congress party,” he said.
Reacting on the issue, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha said that the letter was written by former DRM. “I am aware of the fact that the former DRM Rajkumar Lal had written to the Railway Board and the Government seeking the Congress office land for expansion and to provide more passenger amenities. I do not know where the issue stands now and I am not aware of what action has been taken on the letter at the Government level,” he said.
“I am busy with official engagements and certain developmental works in my constituency for the next three months and will not be able to focus on the land issue,” the MP added.