The Karnataka government, which manages the Mysore Palace, has tightened its hold over the historical structure by appointing a director. The government manages the tourists visiting the palace, maintains the palace interiors from the ticket price and also ensures its overall maintenance. It has appointed KAS-level officer K M Gayathri as the Palace Board director, a newly-created post. She is expected to assume charge shortly. She is at present chief administrative officer (CAO) of the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam.
She will hold additional charge as the Palace Board director, said in charge deputy commissioner S Palaiah, who is chief executive officer (CEO) of the board. The creation of a new post of director to the Palace Board - according to an order issued on May 9 - which was so far being managed by the deputy commissioner as CEO and a deputy director assumes significance in the background of the recent controversies relating to its management, particularly the restoration of the gold leafing of its nearly century-old interiors. Following allegations of sub-standard work, the Lokayukta police had filed an FIR against board deputy director T S Subramanya, Ganjifa artist Raghupathi Bhat and eight others in connection with the alleged sub-standard gold leafing work done at a cost of Rs 3.65 crore. The FIR was filed based on a recent report by the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property (NRLC), which found the restoration works to be full of technical defects. It was carried out without proper specifications, specialisation in good leafing work, restoration and quality material on the 5,966 sq ft area. It had favoured an in-depth investigation. The other eight persons named in the FIR are former Palace Board director P V Avaradi, engineers C N Lakshmisha, V Srinivas, C S Rajashekaregowda, B R Muralidhara Rao, M K Somashekar, Parashivamurthy and contractor Shehzad Khan of Mumbai. Bhat, however, has denied the allegations. Besides, Subramanya was transferred soon after the new government took over. However, he successfully appealed against the government order before the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal and was back in his post. The reason attributed to the creation of a new post of the director is that the deputy commissioner, who is also the chief executive officer of the board, will be pre-occupied with other works and hence the appointment of a director was required immediately.