The Rs 2.15 cr. project has come a cropper due to curbs on floodlights around HAL airport

A project to illuminate a portion of the golf course run by the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) has stirred up a hornet’s nest among a section of its members.

Though it was cleared in principle by members as a ‘sponsored project’ in December 2004, the contract that was signed with the sponsors worth Rs. 2.15 crore was not brought before the general body for ratification. Moreover, a 15-year agreement was signed with the sponsors despite the fact that the association’s lease agreement with the State Tourism Department was coming to an end in 2010.

Meanwhile, nearly three years after the lease expired, the government is yet to renew it, said a Tourism Department official. The previous Bharatiya Janata Party government had provisionally approved renewal on certain conditions, including an increase in lease amount.

Members outraged

A section of members, numbering around 2,500, are also incensed that though the association went in for arbitration with the “sponsor” who sought certain rights in the golf course in 2009, this was revealed to them only earlier this year.

The illumination project “sponsored” by Embassy Golf Link Software Park Ltd. was executed by Dev Musco Lighting Pvt. Ltd. (a tie-up between former cricketer Kapil Dev and Musco Sports Lighting, U.S.) through a tripartite agreement in 2005. However, after the project was completed, the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) refused permission for floodlights as they come in the flight path of HAL Airport, resulting in the club using illumination only in a few fairways in the morning and evening during play. “All efforts made by members to get information on the subject were thwarted either giving evasive reply or (more often) no reply. The entire matter is shrouded in secrecy and needs to be opened up,” stated a resolution, a copy of which is with The Hindu, moved by a member N.D. Prabhu, former Chairman and Managing Director of Canara Bank, on June 26 this year at the KGA’s annual general meeting.

“When the project was first mooted, we were told that it would be pure sponsorship with no liability or obligation on the KGA. The general body agreed to it, but with reservations. Now we are told that the sponsor has initiated arbitration proceedings claiming cost,” a member aware of the developments said. “The KGA should have taken prior permission for the floodlights from the authorities. Surprisingly, though the arbitration proceedings started in 2009, members were told about it only in 2013.”

The managing committee during a special general body meeting early this year revealed that Embassy Golf Links had invoked arbitration clause on the grounds that the contract could not be fulfilled. On June 26, the committee informed members that an acceptable solution outside the arbitration was being considered by allowing club and playing facilities to Embassy Golf Links.

While Golf Links has appointed former Supreme Court Judge Shivraj V. Patil as their nominee arbitrator, the KGA’s managing committee in 2009 appointed the former Karnataka High Court Judge R.J. Babu as its nominee arbitrator.

At the annual general meeting on June 26 following the resolution moved by Mr. Prabhu, it was decided to set up a five-member committee to probe the issue of illumination as well as the contract with the promoters of Royal Trophy. A report is expected to be submitted in three months.

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