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Racecourse lease was always renewed late, latest contract never registered - By Shailendra Awasthi I TNN

Posted on - 06 Jul 2014

Racecourse lease was always renewed late, latest contract never registered
Renewal Came More Than 10 Yrs After Lease Lapsed
By Shailendra Awasthi

Ever since the lease of the Mahalaxmi racecourse expired in May last year, there have been several suggestions to use the city's largest green patch for other purposes, citing non-renewal of the lease. But if one looks at the history of the racecourse, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has always taken its own sweet time to renew the lease, once renewing it 23 years after it lapsed.
The widely reported 99year lease granted to the Royal Western India Turf Club never actually existed and the BMC has renewed it in patches from time to time, always maintaining a leisurely approach to renewal. In fact when the first lease of 30 years, issued in 1914, expired in 1944, racing activities on the grounds continued for at least 23 years without a formal lease in place. The state government and the BMC officially extended the lease for another 30 years only in 1967.
When the second lease again ended in 1974, the BMC took another 11 years to renew it, this time for a 20-year period.
The renewal was put in place only in 1985 for the years from 1974 to 1994. When the third lease expired in 1994, the BMC took another 10 years to renew it in 2004 for a period of 19 years, from 1994 to 2013.
Interestingly, the latest lease, which ended on May 31 last year, existed only on paper and was never registered thanks to a court stay. In 2004, the RWITC, entered into an agreement with Pegasus Clubs & Resorts Pvt Ltd for construction of a golf course, hotel, service apartments, exhibition and convention facility and sports facility on the racecourse land, which attracted a wide public criticism. A group called the Public Concern for Governance Trust filed a PIL against the proposed developments. The court granted a stay which barred the lease from being registered. The stay is still in force and the case is still on.

Even today no construction work can take place at the racecourse.

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