The good news after the Congress came to power in Karnataka is that N. Jayaram, a 2004-batch IAS Officer, has been appointed as the Secretary to Chief Minister Siddharamaiah.
Jayaram has a very intimate connection with Mysuru for two reasons. One is, he was the Commissioner of Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) from Dec. 10, 1999 to Jan. 21, 2002 and the second reason is that he is the son-in-law of our city’s well-known hotelier and former MLC Sandesh Nagaraj, the owner of Sandesh the Prince Hotel.
While Jayaram was the MUDA Commissioner, he was considered as one of the best Commissioners who had done considerable developmental works in all directions of the then growing city of Mysuru. He was responsible for launching a number of new layouts including K.C. Layout, Alanahalli and whole areas in and around the iconic Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel. Because of the presence of the Palace Hotel he took steps to preserve its heritage status and architectural beauty. Certain guidelines were laid down in the matter of maintaining the areas surrounding the Palace Hotel. For example, no high rise building was to come up in its vicinity nor felling of trees etc.
However, following the victory of the Mysore royal family in the matter of lands surrounding Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel in a Court case, all these guidelines would now come to naught, thus all those restrictions to protect the majesty of the Palace Hotel might not be valid anymore. It is here the danger lies to the ecology and ethos of a beautiful panoramic area surrounding the Palace Hotel.
Many projects were conceived in and around the Palace Hotel by successive Governments and their Tourism Ministers to make it an environment-friendly tourist centre which included a Botanical Garden, after the mega project of a Nehru Loka, similar to the world famous Disney Land of America, was given up. Another mega project too was visualised with an open air museum of folklore, arts and culture with eateries and entertainment like the famous ‘Chokhi Dhani’ of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Now, all those dream projects will only become a fantasy for Mysureans. A mirage.
It may be mentioned that in the late 1990s when S. Bangarappa was the Chief Minister, a proposal was made through the then CITB, by some visionary citizens of Mysuru, to convert the available land out of the 2,500 acres that was reserved for the abandoned Nehru Loka project, into a Botanical Garden with the majestic Chamundi Hill overlooking it. The name too was suggested to flatter the ego of Chief Minister Bangarappa — ‘Bangarada Bana.’ A forest of Gold. An allusion to name Bangarappa — a man of gold. It was to be designed after Lal Bagh in Bengaluru. Even the bait of naming the Botanical Garden after the CM himself did not yield the desired result. Then it became a concrete jungle with residential layouts that we see now. K.C. Layout, J.C. Layout and the IVAC – Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre, JSS Ayurveda Hospital, Sri Ravi Shankar Guruji’s Art of Living Ashram etc.
Now once again, there is a ray of hope. Siddharamaiah of Mysuru district has become the Chief Minister for the second time and Jayaram has been appointed as his Secretary. Therefore, we Mysureans can now hope to see the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel and its surrounding lands developed in a way that it would enrich the environs of the eastern part of the city. Of course, the Helipad should stay there. All this no matter what it takes and what it costs.
Having said this, I must urge our CM Siddharamaiah to get his new Secretary Jayaram to implement the ideas and projects formulated by our earlier Governments to make best use of the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel and its huge surroundings in Public Interest so that he would be leaving a memorable legacy when he lays down office and would always be remembered as a man who made a difference to the city.
Tailpiece: I must recall here how Siddharamaiah saved about four-and-a-half acres of land right in front of the MRC Club House of MUDA. The MRC wanted that land to shift the Club House or to add to the one already existing.
The MRC officials invited the then Finance Minister Siddharamaiah for a dinner to discuss this. I was also present. Had an informal meeting and dispersed. Siddharamaiah did nothing. Later, the then MUDA Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey (2004 to 2005), if my memory serves me right, called a global tender and the land went for an astronomical figure of about Rs. 22 crore, for those days. As a result, we got that imposing semi-classical building of Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel with architecture compatible to this Royal City’s Palace designs. Thanks to Siddharamaiah.
e-mail: [email protected]