Thiruvananthapuram: The erstwhile Travancore royal family has written to the central government to return two pieces of prime real estate in New Delhi currently in the possession of the Kerala government.
The Travancore House, spread over 8.195 acres along the Kasturba Gandhi Marg, and the 6.104 acre Kapurthala Plot have been under the control of the central government since India became independent. The Travancore House was the Delhi residence of the ruler of the defunct princely state that became a part of Kerala.
The former royal family, in a letter signed by Aditya Varma, requested the Union housing and urban affairs ministry that the title deeds of the properties be made available to it. Varma said that the state government had only possession rights on the properties. The central government has asked the state government for an explanation.
The state government will reply after seeking legal counsel. Any dispute is guaranteed to be protracted since it involves the retrieval of documents that are more than 65 years old.
Varma set the ball in motion by asking for copies of the documents related to the properties. He followed up on the request by claiming that the documents revealed that the state government had only possession rights on the properties. In a letter to land development officer Amit Khataria, he wanted the custody of both properties. He told Manorama Online that he was just following up on the efforts of his ancestors to claim the real estate.
The properties were taken over by the Government of India after Independence in 1947. The Travancore House was home to the Soviet embassy from 1948 to 1965. The adjacent Kapurthala Plot was divided from the Travancore House after more than 2 acres were handed over to the New Delhi Kerala Education Society. The central government eventually handed over the Travancore House to the Kerala government in 1973 after a legal battle. The Kapurthala Plot was handed over in 1993.
Since 1993, the State Bank of Travancore and Keltron operated out of the Travancore House. Starting 2005, an art gallery was set up in the building and it was often let out for exhibitions.
The current Left Democratic Front government has plans to develop the building into a culture complex. The claim comes amid government's plan to set up an art gallery, auditorium, exhibition hall and business centre.