The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Landmark in shadowy sale

The landmark 4, Netaji Subhas (NS) Road building has changed hands, apparently without the knowledge of its owners.

The royal family of Burdwan is said to be “extremely upset” with its 100-year-old tenant, Standard Chartered Bank, for “quietly” transferring the leasehold of the palatial Dalhousie structure to “one Jhunjhunwala” for an undisclosed amount.

The bank informed the family about the “shadowy deal” on Saturday, after having scouted for a buyer together for several years.

One of the largest properties in central Calcutta, with a usable space of 1.25 lakh sq ft, 4, NS Road is owned by Maharani Karuna Devi, a daughter of the Burdwan royal family now residing in Alipore, and her two sisters. The bank controls it under a 100-year-old lease agreement with the Mahtabs — the zamindars of Burdwan. The lease is set to end in 2005, but can be extended by another 100 years.

“We are extremely upset with the bank for transferring the leasehold of the property without obtaining the family’s consent. Rajkumar Jai Chand Mahtab is going to meet officials of the bank on Tuesday,” said a senior official of the family’s estate.

Soon after acquiring the property from the family on lease in 1905, the bank built the building that stands today. The Mahtabs and the bank were jointly scouting for a buyer, said an adviser to the royal family. The bank had, apparently, agreed to vacate the property for a consideration of around Rs 3 crore.

Among those eyeing the Dalhousie commercial address was jute baron Arun Bajoria, who had, apparently, offered around Rs 11 crore a couple of years ago. Property brokers involved in the negotiations said the deal fell through when principal shareholder Maharani Karuna Devi stuck to her Rs 15-crore demand.

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