Palace intrigues have for long fascinated people. But, in the case of Butler Palace, what has caught the attention of administration authorities is an innocuous banner declaring that the property in question belongs to (Raja of) Mahmudabad and Lake Palaces Heritage Hotels.
In fact, the secretary to the scion of Raja of Mahmudabad, Saghir Hasan Khan confirmed that indeed a proposal to convert the palace into a heritage hotel was under active consideration. But while he saw no legal hurdle or problem in the move, the administration and the LDA apparently tended to differ with him on the issue. “While we have handed over the possession of the palace in question as per the Supreme Court order in the matter, certain new facts related to the property have come up and we have apprised the State Government about the same,” said deputy custodian of enemy properties Manoj Rai.
He said following these new developments the State Government was planning to file a special leave petition in the case. “The lease of the 52,000 square feet of land on which the Butler Palace Colony is located belongs to the LDA. Only 2,200 square feet of the constructed portion was exempted, and belonged to the owner as per the provisions of the Urban Ceiling Act under which constructed area is left out,” he pointed out. While the administration authorities were of the view that any move to change the status of the property should ideally follow only a final settlement of the issue by the courts, the LDA officials’ had a different take on the matter.
“The scion of the Raja owes us over Rs 30,000 by way of lease rent. Only recently his staff gave us a cheque of Rs 10,000 as payment against the same but we refused to accept the same as we wanted them to pay the full amount,” said an LDA official requesting anonymity.
He said the development would resist any attempt to change the status of the property till such time their dues were cleared by the owner. When asked whether the LDA had received any plan seeking sanction for setting up the proposed hotel, Secretary RB Yadav replied in the negative. He said it would be for the experts in the town planning section in the LDA to see whether a hotel can be allowed in the high-security area if and when such a proposal/plan is submitted to them.