The proposal of the Department of Tourism to construct a star hotel at the Sculpture and Art Centre of Kannada University, Hampi, in Badami is now turning into a bone of contention between the two authorities.

Recently, the department wrote to the centre asking the authorities to vacate the premises as it plans to construct a start hotel for tourists who visit Badami and other historical areas such as Aihole and Pattadakal.

The department’s decision has drawn criticism as the centre believes that the government should not allow a start hotel to come there as the institution is providing skills and employment opportunities to many students.

Admitting that the department has written to them, Krishna Katti, administrator of the centre, said the then government in 1999 had given the unused building of the Tourism Department to the centre. Though the building was given on lease for 30 years, it was on the condition that the centre should vacate the building whenever asked by the department.

Around 40 students are studying in the centre located on eight acres of land near Banashankari temple in Badami town.

“It is one of the unique centres in the State which is offering courses in arts and sculpture. For ages, the occupation of sculpting was confined mainly to the Vishwakarma community. Now, after the introduction of courses, people from different communities are showing interest and learning this skill. Not just that, almost everyone who has studied here has found employment. Several students are also earning by working with local artisans. The centre has brought a social change in a way,” said Mr. Katti. He believes that the centre should not be shifted. He said the matter had been conveyed to the university.

Subbanna Rai, Registrar of Kannada University, said the department wrote to the university about two months asking them to get the centre’s building vacated.

“We have written to the government explaining how the premise has been benefiting many students studying courses in sculpture and painting. We feel that such a study centre should continue in the historical of site Badami and are trying to retain it. We hope the government will respond positively,” Mr. Rai said.

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