All commercial activities on the Palace Grounds will come to a halt from Friday. Also banished are rallies by political parties notorious for throwing traffic out of gear.

The centrally located grounds will be rented out only for weddings, birthdays, get-togethers, political party conferences (very different from rallies, according to the powers-that-be), music programmes, flower shows and Bangalore Habba programmes.

Temporary structures erected for such programmes have to be dismantled immediately after the shows are over.

This was announced by the Leader of the House in Legislative Council V. Somanna on Thursday.

Replying to a question by R.V. Venkatesh of Congress, he said all commercial activities will be banned on the Palace Grounds from Friday and only auspicious events such as weddings and birthday celebrations and music programmes would be permitted. “All permanent structures will be cleared and a direction has been issued to the Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner of Police,” he disclosed.

Raising the issue, Mr. Venkatesh and Janata Dal (Secular) Floor Leader M.C. Nanaiah alleged that the government had been violating the Supreme Court guidelines in its interim order. Some influential persons were causing loss to the government by colluding with officials, who permitted commercial activities in contravention to guidelines.

Referring to the government reply, Mr. Venkatesh said that officials had flouted all the eight conditions prescribed to rent out the grounds. “Even if any one of the conditions has been followed, I will tender my resignation,” he said.

‘Form house panel’

Both Mr. Nanaiah and Mr. Venkatesh demanded that the government constitute a House Committee to probe into the illegalities and find a permanent solution to the issue. Though the court had allowed the use of 30 of the 468 acres for temporary activities, 120 acres was being used for commercial purposes, entailing even permanent structures.

In his reply, Mr. Somanna asserted that the government was not averse to forming the committee but would seek legal opinion.

“The government will convene a meeting under the leadership of Legislative Council Chairperson D.H. Shankaramurthy to chalk out the course of action in the next 10 days.”

Mr. Nanaiah urged the government to strictly adhere to the court guidelines and involve the Chief Secretary in renting out the grounds. Mr. Somanna agreed.

Only for three days

In his presentation, Mr. Nanaiah said the Supreme Court had specified that the grounds could be given on temporary lease, hire or rent for a maximum of three days with prior permission from the government.

Mr. Nanaiah alleged that though the 25 marriage halls on the premises showed on record that they charged Rs. 25,000 as rent, their actual collection was anything between Rs. 50 lakh and Rs. 75 lakh. “The government is losing money,” Mr. Nanaiah added.

Keywords: Palace Grounds

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