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Vishnuvardhan memorial only on paper

Muralidhara Khajane
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Legal hurdles over land ownership among reasons for delay

The samadhi of the late Vishnuvardhan in Bangalore.— FILE Photo: K. Murali Kumar
The samadhi of the late Vishnuvardhan in Bangalore.— FILE Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Even after two years of thespian Vishnuvardhan's death, the fate of the memorial planned in his name is still a distant dream.

Vishnuvardhan, who carved a niche for himself in the Kannada film industry donning various roles in over 200 films, died on December 30, 2009.

Though the State Government planned to construct a memorial for the actor on the premises of Abhiman Studio at Uttarahalli here, the project has hit a roadblock owing to a land dispute. The studio land is privately owned by actor late Balakrishna, now represented by his family members.

After the death of Vishnuvardhan, a trust was formed to develop the memorial with the Chief Minister as its chairman and N.R. Vishukumar of the Department of Information, who is member-secretary, besides representatives of Vishnuvardhan's family as members.

The then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa had said that there would be no delay in the construction of the memorial, during the first anniversary at the samadhi. However, there has been no progress in work on the memorial because of the dispute among late Balakrishna's family members on the ownership of the land.

When contacted, Mr. Vishukumar told The Hindu that every effort was being made by the Government to start work on the memorial. It had even offered to pay compensation of Rs. 1 crore for an acre of land to the owners. It was difficult to start work unless the dispute is settled. Members of late Balakrishna's family recently assured of sorting out the issue and hand over the land to the authorities. “But we have to wait till the parties concerned withdraw the case,” he added.

The Government has released Rs. 5 crore of the Rs. 10 crore promised for developing the memorial. Except for a “mantapa” built by late Vishnuvardhan's wife Bharati over the samadhi, no other work has been taken up.

The trust is planning to build the memorial as well as a park, a fountain and a meditation centre on the two acres of land on the premise of the studio. The memorial has been designed in the shape of a “Sri Chakra”. The design was chosen as Vishnuvardhan, who was spiritually inclined, is said to have had a special liking for the “Sri Chakra”.

Proposal

Meanwhile, frustrated by the hurdles in developing the memorial, Ms. Bharati even consented to construct a memorial in Mysore, Vishnuvardhan's native place. Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda had directed Deputy Commissioner of Mysore P.S. Vastrad to find location for developing the memorial.

After scouting for location, Mr. Vastrad zeroed in on 3.3 acres of land opposite the Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamy Ashrama there. This was approved by Ms. Bharati. Mr. Sadananda Gowda was supposed to visit Mysore and lay the foundation stone for the memorial on Friday, but sources disclosed that the programme has been deferred.

Nevertheless, Ms. Bharati is also not too keen on having the memorial in Mysore. She admitted that she had given consent earlier because of frustration over the delay in having a memorial for her late husband.

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