As per the order of the Defense Estate office Bengaluru, the Cantonment board Belagavi has been asked to take possession of the land of Union Gymkhana as they have failed to accept the rate offered by the DEO and hence the deadline notice period ends today.
Notices of similar nature have been sent to other occupants like schools and other clubs as well. A few of them might have taken a stay.
The main issue here is the exorbitant lease rents that have been asked to be paid by the schools and clubs.
What is the ISSUE:
The union Gymkhana has been asked retrospectively to pay for the period from 2002, lease rent which would a colossal Rs. 1,02,53,000/- !!
The DEO order –
ORDER Estate Officer heard the ploy of both the parties and it is amply clear from the record that GLR Sy.No. 73 with an area of 6.50 acres (GLR entry is made in GLR volume1 page 82 as an original entry) belongs to Govt of India Ministry of Defence and under the management of DEO, Karnataka Circle, Bangalore and respondent was only lessee over the land till 31.03 2002. Respondent vide his letter dated 19.03.2021 (placed on record) also stated that they are willing to renew the lease only with request to reduce the annual lease rent by keeping the same as it was earlier. As club authorities have failed to accept the offered rate of lease rent even after repeated opportunities, lease was not renewed/extended and they have no right to occupy the land. They are unauthorized occupants and need to vacate the land.
The union Gymkhana has issued a press note –
Saving the 98 years old Union Gymkhana for future generations of children.
A sword hangs over the head of the 98 years old Union Gymkhana, which was set up to encourage the school children of Belgaum to take up modern sports like, cricket, football, hockey, tennis and table tennis.
In 1937, an empty piece of land was leased to the Gymkhana, close to a spot where the Cantonment meets the Municipal area. Other than this land, it has never taken any government funds, nor has it undertaken any unauthorized construction. All the grounds and the badminton and tennis courts have been maintained by the voluntary labour of youth and children and generous donations by the sports lovers of Belgaum.
Since 1937, the Union Gymkhana has signed 4 leases with the Defence Estates Officer. The lease rent for the last lease that ended on 31.03.2002, was Rs.2,741/- per year.
After the last lease, we had approached two Defence Ministers, Shri. George Fernandes in 2002 and Shri. Manohar Parrikar in 2015. Both understood our predicament and helped us. In 2016, the Army wanted to use our grounds for their troops, and for the Cantonment Board employees, for free. We readily agreed. We also agreed to invite an Army Officer to attend the meetings of the Board of Directors.
However, suddenly, in 2018 we were informed by the D.E.O. that the Ministry of Defence was prepared to renew our lease for 30 years from 2002 to 2032, but, by employing a new method, just developed, known as the ‘S.T.R.’ method, and applied retrospectively to the period from 2002, our lease rent would be a colossal Rs. 1,02,53,000/- !!
We are not a Club for the elite sections of society. We are a simple sports gymkhana for poor and middle class children,
Our membership fees are an extremely minimal Rs. 125/ per month. Coaching and training in badminton costs Rs. 400/-, in tennis it costs Rs. 400/-, in table tennis it costs Rs 300/- and in cricket it costs Rs. 500/- per month.
We are maintaining a green turf wicket for cricket at a considerable cost. Our total income in 2020 was Rs.13,25,256/-, and, after paying the ground maintenance and expenses of water, electricity, staff bills, etc., we are left with a surplus of Rs. 88,180/-
We simply cannot afford such exorbitant rent.
There are no commercial activities in any part of the Union Gymkhana premises. We do not even have a bar license and do not have any residential quarters for guests, etc.
The families we reach through our voluntary efforts cannot afford to pay more than about Rs. 500/- for coaching. With these meagre funds we have produced sports persons who have reached University and State level.
If the Union Gymkhana is killed by this high ‘S.T.R.’ rate, the flame of sports that has burned brightly over here for 98 years will go out and the children will be plunged in darkness.
They have no other grounds to play on as the Army has built quarters on two other playgrounds which were in the Cantonment area.
The ‘S.T.R.’ method has only three rates, – ‘residential’, ‘commercial’ and ‘lucrative commercial’, and the Union Gymkhana does not fall into any of these three categories. No one has ever ‘resided’ in the premises of the Union Gymkhana. Games and matches only last for a few hours and then everyone goes home. We feel we have been unfairly pushed into the residential category.
Please, Sir, please intervene and stop this injustice – and please do not allow the Grand Old Sports Institution of Belgaum … the Union Gymkhana to be wiped off the sports map of Belgaum.
Please do not allow the sports dreams of future generations of children to be snuffed out in a single stroke of the pen, for the sake of ‘revenue’.
There will be tears in the eyes of thousands who regards this as their sports ‘karma bhoomi’.
Kindly intervene to reduce this exorbitant increase and let us continue to train youngsters here in Belagavi.