At 67, Satish Rai leads an independent life. A widow, Rai did not fret when her only son moved to the USA. But on Friday Rai was inconsolable, as news reached that the South Delhi Club was to vacate its premises by March 31 and handover possession to the DLF that had given the land on lease to the club.
“This was my second home for 37 years,” said Rai, sitting at the cards table at the 44-year old club in Greater Kailash-I. The club attracted many senior citizens.
Rai, a retired lecturer from Haryana, said she came here everyday, including in weekends, from Faridabad. “I spend six hours of my long lonely days here. What will I do without it?” she said.
The club has 1,700 members and 60 per cent of them are senior citizens.
The news that it will have to vacate the premises came as a shock to many even though the dispute with the DLF was more than a decade old. Not many knew about the Delhi High Court's January order in DLF's favour, directing the club management to handover the property by March 31.
“Most of us had no clue about the dispute. The management never informed us,” said Surender Khurana, whose 88-year-old mother is one of the oldest active members of the club. “She can't do without coming here,” said Khurana.
Young members like Pinky (30) said they felt cheated. “We just paid Rs 75,000 to avail lifelong membership. We were clueless that it was a disputed property,” she said.
The clubhouse was one of the best in Delhi, equipped with a swimming pool, fully equipped gym, a conference room and various other sports facilities. The club bar sees a steady patronage every evening.
Built in an area of 5,000 square yards, the club is employs 125 men. "It is our source of livelihood," said Prakash, a billiard marker.
Octogenarian Pushpa Sabharwal worked as the library in-charge of the club since its first days.
“I do not know whether it's the MCD, DLF or our management that is at fault. All I know is that South Delhi Club is a landmark. We residents have shared our happiness and grief here for over 40 years,” Sabharwal said.