Demolition notice to Baroda Palace for 'illegal' construction

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Vadodara, Oct 8 (UNI) The Town Development office of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has issued a demolition notice to the administrator of the disputed Laxmi Vilas Palace property belonging to the Gaekwads of erstwhile Baroda State for alleged illegal constructions in the premises of the palace.

The notice was issued recently after a team of VMC officials made spot verification on the basis of a complaint registered by Mumbai-based Vadodara royal scion Pratapsinh Gaekwad. Pratapsinh's father Sangramsinh is fighting a legal battle against his elder siblings for the last two decades for his due share in the Rs 2,500 crore Gaekwads' royal properties spread across the country.

According to town development officer C B Patel, some construction activities were on by the Gaekwad Baroda Golf Club (GBGC) for a club House and a new swimming pool in the premises of the Laxmi Vilas Palace.

After a preliminary survey, it was found that the constructions were unauthorised as no prior permission was taken from the Town planning department neither by the Golf Club nor the Palace administrator, Mr Patel said. ''Now the Golf Club authorities have sent their reply to our demolition notice. A decision will be taken on the matter after a detailed survey,'' he added.

When contacted, Golf Club director Mahendrasingh Chouhan said the club had only strengthened a 100-year-old heritage building adjacent to the Golf course in the palace premises with some renovation work to use it as club house. The building was being used as kitchen of the Gaekwad royal family then.

Since the abandoned building was very much there in the old VMC map, Mr Chauhan claimed that they had not violated any corporation law by strengthening and restoring the old structure.

Besides, VMC could not force us to take prior permission to construct a swimming pool in an open space and a boundary wall of the club in the palace premises. Interestingly, Pratapsinh's cousin Samarjit Gaekwad is the president of the Golf Club.

Mr Chouhan further alleged that VMC had issued the demolition notice without verification of records or visit to the site.

Besides, he said, none of the town development officials ever talked to them before issuing the notice.

UNI SS RN NY HT2102

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