Major portion of the land for the project is ‘gomal'
Lack of political will, funds, and complications about land have marred the construction of the ambitious Shivarama Karanth Smaraka Kalagrama project. The project was planned as a memorial to the litterateur and Jnanpith Award-winner late Kota Shivarama Karanth.
The then Minister for Kannada and Culture Rani Satish had laid the foundation stone for the Kalagrama on February 28, 2004. The construction of the Kalagrama should have been completed last year as per the original plan.
The Kalagrama was to come up on 60.24 acres of land on the Manipal-Alevoor Road at an estimated cost of Rs. 4 crore. This land had a stream and a hillock on it.
The Kalagrama was to have three enclaves. The first enclave was to consist of a training centre in arts, including Yakshagana, a museum showcasing the literary works of Karanth and artefacts of Udupi district, a theatre, and art galleries. A small check dam and a pond was to be built in the second enclave along with a children's park, a children's science centre, an amphitheatre, a camping ground, housing quarters for scholars and dormitories for NCC and NSS cadets. A Nature Information Centre and a Meditation Centre were planned in the third enclave.
A Shivarama Karanth Kalagrama Development Committee was formed with the Deputy Commissioner as its president. The State Government released Rs. 24 lakh on February 23, 2004 for the Kalagrama, which was utilised for the construction of a check dam, a road, and compound wall. But there was no progress on other works.
Meanwhile, there were complications about the land where the Kalagrama was to come up. A portion of this land was found to be “gomala” land. Hence a file was sent for Cabinet approval seeking its permission for using the land for the Kalagrama.
But because of lack of political will, the file returned with no action on it. Udupi tahsildar V. Prasanna told The Hindu on Sunday the Scouts and Guides organisation had sought 23.15 acres of land out of the 60.24 acres about one-and-a-half years ago.
While there was no problem with four acres out of 23.15 acres of land, the remaining 19.15 acres was “gomal” land, hence the district administration had sought Government's permission to use this land for public purpose, he said.
In 2006, the Government announced the construction of a Suvarna Karnataka Samskritika Samuchaya (cultural complex) in two acres land of the Kalagrama. The complex has been built at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.24 crore. It has three buildings housing an art gallery, a library and an administrative block.
According to Project Director of Nirmiti Kendra Arun Kumar, though the complex was ready, the Department of Kannada and Culture was not ready to occupy as it did not have adequate staff. No funds had been released for other works of the Kalagrama, he said.
A District Science Centre was expected to come up on 10 acres of land at the Kalagrama. According to the Convener of the Centre N.A. Madhyastha, the project was lying dormant and funds had not been released for it.