National Panjim Theater Demolition Scenario Has Some Twists

April 20, 2022 | 07:56 IST

National Panjim Theater Demolition Scenario Has Some Twists

Former CCP mayor Surendra Furtado opposes ‘settlement’ with expired tenant at cost to treasury

Team Herald

Panjim: The historic National Theater also known as Cine Teatro Nacional will be razed. The building stands on land now owned by the Panjim City Corporation. The building was leased to M/S Rao and company. CCP commissioner Agnelo Fernandes said a compromise had been reached with the Raos and their family.

As mentioned, 400 sqm will be donated to the Rao family for the newly constructed commercial building which will be given to the Rao family.

Former CCP Mayor Surendra Furtado strongly opposed the proposal, citing that the 30-year lease period has expired and the CCP can take possession of the property without any encumbrances.

In his complaint to CCP Commissioner Agnelo Fernandes, Furtardo mentions that clause 5 of the lease deed states that upon the expiration of 30 years or termination of the lease, the city corporation of Panaji has the right to take possession of the property in case the lease is not renewed. Since the lease is not renewed, the CCP can legitimately take possession of the property.

The CCP also has the right to collect property tax according to the Municipal Law and the CCP Law, since M/S Rao and the company have not paid the taxes, the company must assess this tax so that , while performing compensation, the CCP can adjust taxes.

Furtado’s complaint also states that since Rao left the building unattended for years, they are not entitled to a settlement as CCP can legally acquire the property.

Furtado told the Herald that when he was mayor, he received complaints that the building was used for illegal activities like Matka gambling and prostitution. He said the lease agreement with M/s Rao & Company was signed on November 12, 1975 and was a registered partnership company with six partners. The deed of lease began for an initial period of seven years and expired on November 24, 2005. Since then, the building has been in the possession of the tenant who has requested that the Company repossess it.

Furtado alleged conspiracy in the decision to donate 400 square meters of space. He said it was unfortunate that the commissioner, who was also the estate agent and guardian of the government, had to protect the interest of the government properties by compromising those interests and protecting the interests of the tenant.

Furtado said, “The commissioner acts as an estate agent therefore presides as a judge, so a judge himself cannot advocate that the CCP compromise with the tenant without hearing the case or giving judgment. It’s a clear case of set-up.”

CCP commissioner Agnelo Fernandes responded by saying that “the building is not a heritage site. The building is in poor condition with cracks, it could collapse at any moment. The case has been dragging on for almost 2 decades now, the CCP and the Rao family have agreed to compromise and therefore demolished the building. He added that the building will be demolished after the agreement is signed this week.

Activist Shailendra Velingkar said Panjimites have a right to transparency and accountability from society and that decisions should not be made solely on the basis of commercial interests. “The commissioner, being the intermediary, tries to arrange with the Rao family. I don’t know if this provision is within the legal framework. The people of Panjim must be consulted because they are the opinion-makers.

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