Mysuru: Vehemently opposing the Tourism and Sericulture Minister S.R. Mahesh’s plans to shift the Mysore Race Course (MRC) to city outskirts and convert the present MRC land into a Botanical Garden, BJP National Council Member and former Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA) Chairman B.P. Manjunath said that the 139.30-acre Race Course was the most ideal place for horse-racing.
Addressing a press conference at Pathrakarthara Bhavan yesterday, Manjunath said that instead of focusing on shifting MRC, the Minister should concentrate on completing all pending tourism projects in Mysuru.
“The very idea of shifting the MRC and developing it into a Botanical Garden on MRC land is flawed and illogical as it would damage the tourism prospects of this Heritage and Cultural city. It will affect the employment of around 3,000 people associated with the Turf Club,” he said.
Manjunath said that MRC was a contribution of Mysore Royal family and along with the Golf Club its total annual turnover is over Rs. 400 crore. “More than Rs. 39 crore is being paid as taxes every year and if such an institution moves to the city outskirts, the government will lose revenue and at the same time, thousands of people will be rendered jobless. There is no bigger tragedy than this,” he said.
Questioning the idea of Botanical Garden in the Race Course land, Manjunath said that the land was not suitable for Botanical Garden as the surface is flat. “Worldwide, botanical gardens are established on undulating land with many gradients. In Mysuru, over 200 acres of land that is ideal for Botanical Garden is available behind the Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre till Tavarekatte Gate (Chamundi Hill Arch Gate) on the way to Chamundi Hill. The Minister can set up Botanical Garden there instead of shifting a well-established Race Course,” Manjunath said.
Highlighting the social activities of the MRC, Manjunath said that MRC runs an eye hospital (MRC Eye Hospital) that is doing yeomen services to the poor and needy better than any government eye hospitals. “More than 70,000 eye surgeries have been performed so far. The hospital has ultra modern facilities and nowhere in the world can one find any race club doing such social service,” Manjunath said.
He said that if the Minister is hell bent on shifting the MRC, the shifting process will take more than 10 years. “At a time when Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is saying that his government will last only for one year, it is doubtful if S.R. Mahesh will last as Tourism Minister for more than one year. If the MRC is shifted in a situation like this, there is scope for real estate mafia and land sharks to occupy the prime land and turning it into a concrete jungle,” he said.
“The Minister should concentrate on renovating the popular Brindavan Gardens at Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam, in Srirangapatna taluk and should take immediate steps to complete the large Aquatic Museum near the Race Course for which Yeddyurappa’s government had already spent about Rs. 10 crore and look at the completion of the multi-level parking facility in Town Hall, which have been in limbo for years. A contractor from Hyderabad (Chhabria Group) has taken Rs. 18 crore from the Mysuru City Corporation and left the Town Hall renovation works unfinished. Let the Minister bring him to book and complete the works instead of targeting the MRC,” Manjunath said.
He demanded that the area of MRC, Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens and Karanji Lake must be declared as a Green Belt. He also demanded that the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel should be given publicity on the lines of the Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, which attracts thousands of tourists.
Former Deputy Mayor Mahadevamma, party leaders Basanth Kumar, Hemant Kumar, Basavaraju and Manju C. Gowda were present during the press conference.
Kannada Vedike supports Minister Mahesh
The Karnataka Kannada Vedike has demanded the MRC to be shifted from the city limits. Addressing a press conference at Pathrakarthara Bhavan this morning, Vedike President Suresh Babu and office bearers M. Chandrashekhar and Bhanu Mohan said that Tourism Minister S.R. Mahesh was right in shifting the Race Course.
“A lot of illegal activities including betting and misappropriation of money take place there and those who run the Race Course have violated the land lease norms in many ways. We urge Minister Mahesh and Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to immediately shift the MRC to city outskirts,” they said.
Note: While there is some justification for asking for the shifting of the stables to a place outside city, the idea of shifting the Race Course is ill-advised. Unfit for a Botanical Garden, the vacant land, once Race Course is shifted, is bound to fall into the hands of land mafia. Further, the MRC Eye Hospital too will close down. Is there a nexus between politicians and the private eye hospitals? — KBG