Shimla ((July 27): Bowing to the popular sentiment the Himachal Pradesh government today decided to acquire controversial Bantony Castle, an 111-year-old private property located in the heritage zone of Shimla town believed to be worth hundreds of crores.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal directed the Urban Development Department to initiate the process for acquiring the property located near the Central Telegraph Office here. The possession of Bantony Castle, which housed the offices of the state DGP and the DIG, was handed over to its owners recently.
But a controversy erupted as the number of owners of the joint property multiplied during a legal battle with the government for vacating the building. Media reports said a UK-based promoter had sought permission under the Tenancy and Land Reforms Act to purchase the land for developing a tourist resort.
The government’s move was apparently aimed at setting to rest all speculation that some influential persons might facilitate the sale of the prime land and get rules changed for construction in the heritage zone.
Media reports had earlier indicated involvement of an influential BJP leader based in Delhi in the deal which was on the anvil.