BBMP standing committee (markets) chairman SH Padmaraj and other committee members were in for a rude shock during inspection of Garuda mall on Saturday.
Garuda Mall owner Uday Garudachar allegedly said the committee members that he would file a police complaint and approach the Lokayukta as the corporators were seeking bribes from him.
Committee chairman Padmaraj said the inspection was conducted on Saturday as the committee had received complaints of building deviation by the mall-owner. Committee members said they would conduct the inspection till the evening.
“The BBMP and Garuda Mall have a memorandum of agreement on a 48-52 percentage basis. How can he use his father’s name while naming the mall? Let him use the BBMP’s too,” said Prakash, a committee member.
Prakash said Garuda Mall pays a monthly rent of Rs35 lakh to the BBMP for 80 shops in the building. “But in a single floor, there are more than 80 shops and the mall is cheating the BBMP. They have also encroached upon a stormwater drain. The mall has violated the agreement,” he added.
While the members were leaving, the mall manager requested the members to meet Garudachar, who was en route to the mall, but the committee members refused and boarded their vehicle. As this scene was being played out, Garudachar arrived and allegedly blocked the members’ vehicle.
Garudachar said he is paying taxes according to the agreement. “The committee members are illiterate and don’t know how to read the agreement before conducting an inspection. The members cannot conduct any inspection without my knowledge. Before conducting an inspection, they should have secured a permission letter and given it to us. The members think we are thieves. They are disturbing our peace and not allowing us to work,” he said.
He alleged that the members wanted a bribe, which he rejected. “They are conducting the inspection as I rejected their demand for a bribe. Previously, some other committee came and inspected the mall. The members come for inspection expecting a bribe and nothing else. We have built the mall on a burial ground and now it has become famous. When a business is flourishing, committee members demand a bribe,” he added. Garudachar said that he would complain to the local police and to the lok ayukta too.
Padmaraj said deputy commissioner Purushotham must file a complaint against Garudachar in Ashokanagar police station for preventing officials from conducting the inspection.
But Purushotham said he cannot file a complaint until securing permission from BBMP commissioner Siddaiah.
Padmaraj said the mall violated the terms of agreement. “The parking lot has been converted into a food court. I was quiet as officials did not provide proper documents. Now, I have all documents regarding the violation and if I am proved wrong I will resign from my post. Does he (Garudachar) have the guts to hand the mall to the BBMP if he is proved wrong,” he asked.