Despite criticism towards government's efforts to privatize government sections, another state-run heritage property is said to be leased out to a private entity in Karnataka. Talks about Mysuru's iconic Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel being leased out to Tata Group have made the headlines after a meeting between the company's top execs and Karnataka's CM BS Yediyurappa took place recently.
Tata Group offered to run the 100-year-old heritage hotel property, which is currently managed by state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR). The topic came up during a virtual meeting between Yediyurappa and Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran among other top execs of the group last week to discuss investment opportunities in the state.
Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director of Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), a group company of TATA which manages Taj Hotels, briefed CM about Tata's track record in managing Palace properties in various cities in India, including Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Hyderabad and Gwalior.
Tata Group won't be alone in the race
According to sources, K'taka CM heard the proposal but did not commit to anything as the final decision is subject to due process. The policy dictates that the government cannot hand over a government property such as the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel to a private entity without floating a Request For Proposals (RFP) or global tenders.
Tourism Department Principal Secretary T. K. Anil Kumar confirmed that the talks to transfer the management of Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel and other heritage properties in the state to a private player on a lease basis.
"We have to call global tenders as part of the rule and then lease out the properties to the highest bidder," Kumar told local newspaper Star of Mysore. "Tenders or RFPs would be called and the suitable bidder can get to manage heritage properties."
The Lalitha Mahal Palace was built by then Mysuru Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV at the foot of Chamundi Hills. The hotel was in the custody of the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) for more than four decades. It was in 2018 that JLR took over.