BJP govt. gave land meant for poor to private trust cheaply

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CTYBangalore, August 14: The State exchequer has suffered losses worth several crores of rupees following the allotment by the previous BJP government, headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa, of 11.11 acres of prime land in the city — reserved for housing to the poor — to a private education trust.

Not only was the land allotted to Sri Srinivasa Education and Charitable Trust, the Yeddyurappa Cabinet in December 2009 cleared the allotment at 50 per cent of the prevailing guidance value.

This was against the advice of the Finance Department, which had recommended collecting the market value, reveal documents in possession of The Hindu.

An RTI activist, who unearthed the documents, is now knocking on the doors of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seeking investigation into the allotment.

The Revenue Department, the documents reveal, had pegged the market value for land on survey number 81 in Uttarahalli of Bangalore South taluk — under Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike jurisdiction — between Rs. 85 lakh and Rs. 95 lakh per acre, while the guidance value was Rs. 70 lakh an acre.

In a file noting marked “secret” sent to the Cabinet, the Finance Department had recommended charging market value for allotment of land, which had been returned by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) citing it as “unfit” for housing purposes.

However, without offering any explanation, the Yeddyurappa Cabinet cleared the proposal to allot the land to the trust at 50 per cent of the guidance value.

While the total guidance value of the 11.11 acres amounted to Rs. 7.89 crore, the trust took possession of the land after paying Rs. 3.94 crore to the government in February 2010 when the going market rate was around Rs. 1 crore per acre.

The allotment was also made after relaxing land grant rule — a power vested with the Cabinet — as the Revenue Department had felt: “There is no scope for grant of land in the city limits to private institutions under the Karnataka Land Grants Rules of 1969.”

Interestingly, it was the third tranche of government land that the trust received after it had been allotted 15 acres in survey number 15 in Chikkasandra village and 10 acres in survey number 57 in Chikkabanavara village — both in Bangalore North taluk in April 2003.
Seeks probe

Wg. Cdr. (Retd) G.B. Athri, who obtained the documents over the last year, said the government has to investigate the allotment. The former Chief Minister or the Revenue Department “did not apply mind before allotting precious land to a private trust”, he said, adding that the BDA had failed in its duty to provide housing to the poor.

“What was the need to allot the land to a trust that had already benefitted by the government’s largesse twice, and why did the Cabinet have to approve allotment of prime land which is worth over Rs. 50 crore in the current market value, at a highly subsidised rate?” he asked.

Despite repeated attempts, Mr. Yeddyurappa was not available for comment.

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