Karnataka’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao may soon find himself in trouble as a Lokayukta probe has revealed that he and his family have reportedly encroached prime land worth Rs.45 crore on the outskirts of Bengaluru owned by the state government.
The Lokayukta started an investigation on the basis of a complaint filed by anti-corruption crusader S.R. Hiremath, who had accused the minister and his family of encroaching upon more than 47 acres of government land. The Lokayukta had directed the Bengaluru North tahsildar to ascertain whether the minister’s family had encroached upon government land.
In his report, Bengaluru North tahsildar has confirmed that Rao had encroached upon 10.09 acres of government land – 5 acres in Survey No. 3 and 5.09 acres in Survey No. 13 in Navaratna Agrahara near Devanahalli, Bengaluru North taluka (Yelahanka).
The land is jointly owned by Varalakshmi Gundu Rao, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Rajesh Gundu Rao and Mahesh Gundu Rao. The family owns 47.34 acres of land, out of which 10.09 acres is said to belong to the government.
The minister is the son of former chief minister of Karnataka, the late R. Gundu Rao (January 1980-January 1983). He is an active leader in the Congress and has won the Assembly elections three times in a row from Gandhinagar, Bengaluru.
The Bengaluru North tahsildar has reportedly issued notices to Rao and his family members asking why action should not be initiated against them.
The minister was unavailable for comments. The Karnataka government chose not to respond as the Lokayukta probe into the case is still on. “This (encroachment) is a finding in the interim. The Lokayukta has not yet completed the probe and submitted its report. We will wait till then…” a senior Congress leader said.
If the Lokayukta report indicts Rao, he may lose his ministerial portfolio.
The Lokayukta’s police wing recently visited the spot after the tahsildar submitted his report. “We wanted to know whether the tahsildar has initiated land recovering proceedings. We found out that the land is still in possession of the minister,” a source in the Lokayukta said.