The Telangana government on Saturday revealed that it is exploring options to take over the Hyderabad Race Club (HRC).
Commercial Taxes minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav, addressed reporters in Hyderabad, and told them that the government had sought legal opinion on the plan.
This announcement a week after tax officials had raided the club recently and allegedly seized more than Rs 50 lakh in cash from bookies.
This move is set to trigger off controversy as the TRS government has made it clear on multiple counts that it wants the race club out of its current prime location in the city.
The current market value of the area in Malakpet is said to be Rs 1,000 crore.
Speaking to a TV channel in March last year even before the formation of Telangana, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had proposed the shifting of the race course out of the city.
"The place that's used for gambling should be turned into an education hub. I feel the Hyderabad Race Course which has huge tracts of land (roughly 126 acres) should be shifted to the outskirts. It can be better used as an education hub. Similarly, the Chanchalguda jail should be shifted to Cherlapally and the land utilized for education and other purposes," he had said.
The Telangana government has been on a mission to curb gambling and other illegal activities surrounding the races.
Earlier this year, Satty and Associates, a licensed book-maker (Bookie) of the Race Club, challenged the decision of commercial taxes authorities in searching their residences and taxing them in the High Court.
The bench held that the tax authorities have the power to inspect the premises of all licensed book-makers of Hyderabad Race Club, but have no jurisdiction to proceed with assessment proceedings under the current regulations.
It also added that there was need for a new regulation that would give more power to the state.
During the press meet on Saturday, the Commercial Taxes minister also added that the HRC has an income running into crores of rupees but was not paying its tax dues to the state government.
Last year, the HRC reportedly recorded a turnover of about Rs 700 crore.
As far as taking over the land is concerned, the Times of India reports that this land belongs to the club and not leased by the government, which would imply that the government may have to pay a hefty compensation besides allotting them land elsewhere.
The evidence found will now be produced before the income-tax department, the anti-money laundering wing and their investigation agencies for inquiry, before the state government proceeds any further.