Hyderabad's renowned cultural hangout 'Lamakaan', was in for a surprise when it received a final closure notice from the Greater Municipal Hyderabad Corporation (GHMC) to shut it down.
Asshar Farhan, one of the founders of Lamakaan, says that they they got the first notice a month ago, to which they immediately replied. However, they received a closure notice soon, claiming that their replies were not 'satisfactory.'
"We have received the notice and I am still following it up with the municipality. We have replied to their final closure notice," said Farhan.
When contacted on Tuesday, GHMC Deputy Commissioner Mahender said "The issue has been resolved and we have taken our notice back."
Responding to the developments, Biju Mathew, one of the other founders of the place said "We are yet to receive an official confirmation on the issue but we have been told on the phone that the GHMC has taken their notice back and we are working to find a solution. Shutting down the place was never going to happen."
Since 2010, Lamakaan, an open cultural center located in the city's Banjara Hills area, has been serving as a cultural melting point, providing space for various artists and events related to literature, theater, music, dance, debates etc.
According to the GHMC notice, Lamakaan was creating 'nuisance' to the general public in the surrounding areas without elaborating on any reason except the lack of a parking space.
However, a report in The Hindu, quotes a source as saying “One complaint was regarding women smoking. And sometimes, the police come blaring the siren when performances are on, only to collect money. In fact, we want the traffic police to take care of the situation at times, as the main road traffic takes a detour.”
Within hours, an online petition was started, that demanded that the place stay open.
However, Biju denies the report and claims that the only issue that they were notified with, was that of the parking and traffic.
"We understand the need to maintain public order and I think Lamakaan has done a good job of maintaining it. Another initial problem, was that the GHMC did not understand what the place was, but now that we have conveyed our side of the story, things will get sorted soon," he adds.
Asopa Rajesh, a working professional from Hyderabad says "I always love to come to Lamakaan to attend dramas and plays along my family. As Ravindra Bharti is on the other side of the city, Lamakaan has been the only option for people like me."
''We are an independent organisation and we are surviving on our own, without any help from the government. Please, let us survive at least," Farhan adds.