BDA fast-tracks sites for Karnataka Bureaucrats: July 26, 2012

Farmers point to the land they once cultivated for which they have not yet been paid compensation by the Bangalore Development Authority. The Metropolitan Cooperative Housing Society has built a residential layout on their land and allotted plots to IAS, IPS and IFS officers.

FB.Metropolitan Cooperative Housing Society has built a residential layout on their land and allotted plots to IAS

While citizens wait, nearly 25 acres allotted to housing society formed by IAS, IPS and IFS officers

Mired in litigation and scandals, the Arkavathy Layout project of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has not seen any progress in several years.

This, however, did not stop the BDA from carving out 24.29 acres of prime land notified for the Arkavathy Layout, in Jakkur, and allotting it in bulk to a housing society formed by IAS, IPS and IFS officers.

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When the 8,000 people allotted sites in the layout demand to be given possession of their plots, they are told to wait until farmers and others are compensated for the land acquired. When the 6,000 farmers and others demand compensation, the BDA cites legal hurdles and asks them to produce ownership documents to support their claim.

But 137 top bureaucrats of the State have become owners of prime plots in Jakkur — a few hundred metres from NH 7 on the way to Bengaluru International Airport — because of the BDA’s helping hand to the Metropolitan Cooperative Housing Society (MCHS). The plot sizes range from 3,075 sq. ft to 6,327 sq. ft; most are around 4,000 sq. ft. Today’s market rate for land in the MCHS is Rs. 4,500 per sq. ft.

Significantly, the BDA made the allotment to the MCHS even before it acquired the land. Documents secured by The Hindu show that the BDA had neither issued the final acquisition notification nor arrived at a suitable compensation package for landowners when it allotted land to the MCHS.

“We have not yet been paid compensation and do not have any other source of income,” Jakkur Ramanna (54), a farmer who lost his land to the MCHS, told The Hindu. He and N. Sunil Kumar (38) were among those former landowners who worked for daily wages when the layout was being formed.

More tragic is the story of Anjanamma Ramakrishnappa (56). Her 17-year-old daughter Ashwini, who had a kidney ailment, could not receive the treatment she needed. When the family’s 38-gunta plot was acquired, they lost their only source of income. The promised compensation never arrived. Ashwini eventually died.

The irregularities

The issue is not merely one of delays for some and special favours for others; documents with The Hindu show that the BDA gave its own rule-book the go-by while making bulk allotments to the society.

According to a rule (335:97) notified by the BDA on December 31, 1997, bulk allotment of land to a society cannot exceed five acres. Nevertheless, the BDA allotted 20 acres to the MCHS on December 12, 2003. The eventual allotment was 24.29 acres and not 20 acres as stated in the 2003 resolution of the BDA board.

Denying that the MCHS had received special favours from the government and the BDA, secretary of the society, IAS officer S. Selva Kumar told The Hindu that they too had to overcome several legal hurdles before forming the layout.

Mr. Kumar said that he had not heard of any rule that puts a cap on bulk allotment of land.

The irregularities do not stop here. The Hindu found several deviations from the approved layout plan. The society had to hand over six “parks and open spaces” to the BDA.

According to the layout plan approved by the BDA, park 1 is supposed to measure 7,267 sq. ft. It measures only around 2,000 sq. ft.

Park 2, measuring 34,852 sq. ft. in the layout plan, does not exist. Park 3 is supposed to be 12,800 sq. ft, but measures only 4,500 sq. ft. Park 4, which is supposed to measure 30,661 sq. ft, houses a large temple complex; park 5 could not be located, and park 6, measuring 49,836 sq. ft, has housing plots on it.

Mr. Kumar said, “The layout has been scrutinised by BDA engineers after a spot visit. They found no irregularities.”

BDA Commissioner Pradeep Singh Kharola said, “The decision [to allot land] was taken before I took charge. If there have been any deviations from the plan, we will take strict action.”

(The society’s membership list of 137 reads like a who’s who of the bureaucracy with senior IAS, IPS and IFS officers among those who have been allotted plots. The Hindu has not been able to contact all of the allottees. Nor does it know whether all or any of them are aware of the irregularities involved in the Jakkur layout.)

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