Ooty: The Forest department here in the hill is all set to take over 34 hectares of land in the golf course near Finger Post area here, which is unique amid the undulating landscape with interspersing woods, as the near 120-year-old Ootacamund Gymkhana Club(OGC) which manages the golf course, is in troubled waters for non-payment of lease arrears to the Forest department.
Top Forest official sources here said that this golf course which is spread over sprawling 72 hectares amid the woods on the HPF road, which is under the control of OGC, is a forest land which was leased out to the OGC more than century ago. A decade ago, the government increased the lease amount for those who are lessees in forest land and accordingly the Forest department issued notice to the OGC to pay the enhanced lease amount with arrears.
“Subsequently this issue went up to the Supreme Court and a committee was formed by the apex court to resolve this issue. Since, the OGC agreed to part away with wooded area in the course and wanted to retain only the golfing area to minimize the lease rent, a survey was ordered a few years ago. Now, to finalize this issue, a fresh survey was done recently. Accordingly, 34 hectares in the golf course, which is identified as wooded zone, will be taken over by the Forest department soon,” sources maintained.
Sources further added that as far as payment of lease arrears to Forest department, which runs up to `50 crore, the OGC preferred an appeal with the government, which is still pending. This apart, non-payment of arrears to the tune of `15 crore by the OGC to the revenue department for using the revenue land along the golf course, has also deepened the crisis for the OGC and golfing here in the hills....