Founder-president of the Samaj Parivartana Samudaya (SPS) S.R. Hiremath alleged that the previous Deputy Commissioner of Dharwad had not taken into consideration public interest, before making recommendations for granting permission for converting the playground at Deshpande Nagar in Hubli into a sports and recreation club.

Addressing presspersons here on Thursday, Mr. Hiremath said the then Deputy Commissioner Darpan Jain should have inspected the spot and called for objections before making recommendations to the government for revising the earlier order regarding grant of the land.

Mr. Hiremath said: “While the Karnataka Gymkhana Association had sought permission for extension of sports facilities on September 5, 2009, the Deputy Commissioner had written to the Principal Secretary of Revenue recommending that permission be granted within next three days (September 8, 2009).

On September 26, 2009, the Deputy Secretary of the Revenue Department informed the Deputy Commissioner about the permission given by the government. And subsequently, the Deputy Commissioner issued an order dated October 28, 2009 permitting the sports and recreation club. At a time when it takes years for any proposal to get a government nod, in less than two months the government issued permission; this clearly indicates how political influence played a role in the whole issue.”

Mr. Hiremath said that the playground in question was worth over Rs. 80 crore. He alleged that the whole venture was nothing more than an attempt to “take control of it, creating facilities for the wealthy few while ignoring public interest”. People should have thought twice before allowing this permission to be issued by the government, which is not at all in the interest of the public.

Clarification

Meanwhile the Karnataka Gymkhana Association, in a release, clarified that it had not violated any laws. It had received the necessary permissions from the government. The association said that playground development was taken up for promotion of sports activities, and it would be available for all.

The association has ruled out involvement of any politician or intervention by political leaders in the functioning of the association. It has also clarified that the playground was registered in the name of the association and as per the bylaws of the association it would not be transferred to any individual.

However, referring to the clarification, Mr. Hiremath said that while technically the playground would be in the name of the association, those in charge of it would be “controlled by influential politicians who played a role in getting the permissions for it,” allowing it to end up as “private property”.

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