Lamakaan, the cultural hangout that has redefined open space for Hyderabad, has been served a notice by Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to shut it down. Officials of Lamakaan have been asked to shut shop in three days, else the corporation itself would do so.
According to GHMC’s closure notice, which was issued by the Licence Section under the subject ‘Running of Cultural Centre at Road No.5 Banjara Hills - Creating nuisance to the surrounding residents and general public’, a show cause notice was issued to Lamakaan prior to this, for supposedly running the place without obtaining a licence from the GHMC.
Post the show cause notice, a reply was given to the civic body by Lamakaan which was ‘not satisfactory’ for the officials, who then responded by issuing the closure notice on December 23, for not obtaining a license to run the place.
Sources from Lamakaan, however, said the cultural centre was not a commercial place, and that a provisional trade license has been taken to run the canteen inside.
Ironically, though the subject in the closure notice clearly states ‘Creating nuisance to the surrounding residents and general public’, nowhere does it mention how or why Lamakaan has caused problems to the general public or residents.
When contacted, GHMC Deputy Commissioner (Circle-10), Mahender, who served the notice on Lamakaan, said there were traffic problems every Sunday in the lane and did not mention anything about the nuisance. When asked if anyone complained to him about it and about the issue of license mentioned in the notice, he replied that the GHMC had taken suo moto notice.
“Lamakaan doesn’t have a parking space for vehicles, and on Sundays, there is a lot of traffic seen in the lane. If they can maintain a parking space, then it’s fine,” said Mr. Mahender.
“One complaint was regarding women smoking. And sometimes, the police come blaring the siren when performances are on, only to collect money. In fact, we want the traffic police to take care of the situation at times, as the main road traffic takes a detour,” informed the source.
Needless to say, the GHMC’s move has come as a shocker to citizens who love Lamakaan.
Noted theatre artiste Vinay Varma said Lamakaan was a blessing for performing artistes. “Where is the drawing line for commercialisation? And how would you define it?” he questioned. R.K. Shenoy, founder of the theatre group Dramanon, said
“As a performer, I agree with what Lamakaan is doing. But as an urban designer, I can also understand the GHMC’s point. If the government wants to take away a cultural sapce from people, then, maybe, it can also provide an alternative space. Otherwise, it will limit the cultural options in Hyderabad for artistes and others.”
Artiste Suzanne Patel, who has been a regular at the cultural space since it began, said she would not like to see the place shut down. “The owners have done a lot to take care of things and keep it vibrant,” she added.