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Prasar eyes land for funds

New Delhi, April 11: Prasar Bharati Corporation appears to be thinking of venturing into areas other than broadcasting, such as building sports complexes, fun parks, agricultural farms and nurseries, to generate more funds.

Strange as it may sound, this is the direction in which the corporation seems to be diversifying. Prasar Bharati intends to lease out its unutilised and surplus real estate spread across the country, though the government has not transferred the ownership of the land to the corporation.

A recent note prepared by the corporation — said to have been cleared in principle by its board — gives details of the proposal.

Some of the properties the corporation plans to lease out are in prime locations in various state capitals and major cities.

Its lease proposal says: “Due to skyrocketing prices of land in many cities, and especially in the metros, there is acute scarcity of various facilities like sports complexes, fun parks for the children and community centres etc as most of the prime land has been converted into markets, multiplexes or put to other profitable commercial uses.”

“It is felt that the sites falling surplus due to closing of many receiving centres of AIR as well as large area of vacant land can be put to proper utilisation...but will also fetch revenues for the organisation,” the note says, outlining Prasar Bharati’s rationale for the exercise.

Information and broadcasting ministry sources said there are legal hurdles in the way of the proposal as the corporation has still not acquired the ownership rights to the assets it possesses.

A bigger obstacle, a senior ministry officer said, is whether the Prasar Bharati Act of 1990 allows such transfer of land for the purpose the corporation intends.

The note lists the six likely uses of the vacant land.

- The plots could be used to run centres which will provide hardware and software training in radio and television

- Sport complexes with infrastructure such as a swimming pool and fields for sports such as cricket and hockey could be set up

- The plots could be developed on the pattern of Appu Ghar in Delhi or Essel World in Mumbai for joyrides and fun parks for children’s recreation

- The larger plots could be used for growing fruit-bearing trees, cash crops and raising nurseries

- Community centres could be built for functions such as marriages

- Multiplexes could come up at sites that are in the hub of commercial activities

The note goes on to say Prasar Bharati will not have to invest as many NRIs and NGOs are willing to pitch in on a build-operate-transfer basis.

The proposal incorporates some gains for Prasar Bharati employees, who would be charged subsidised rates for facilities availed.

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