Restore BMTF’s powers, says Deve Gowda

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BANGALORE, December 19:  The former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda on Thursday urged the State government to effectively take up the cause of restoring the powers of the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) before the Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court.

Speaking to presspersons here, Mr. Gowda said BMTF’s powers were crippled by an order of a single judge of the High Court recently. It is no more authorised to take steps to prevent or take action against encroachment of government lands and their misuse.

He said when the BMTF was formed during his regime, sufficient powers were conferred upon the body to protect government property in the metropolitan region. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who was the Finance Minister then, was amply aware of the proceedings and he should now take the lead to restore the powers of the watchdog, Mr. Gowda demanded.

If the BMTF is not allowed to function to its full autonomy, land mafia would again raise its heads and precious government land would go to its hands, Mr. Gowda warned.

Meanwhile, he wanted the government to auction encroached government land in and around Bangalore as identified by the A.T. Ramaswamy committee. Portions of these lands should be used to provide housing to economically weaker sections of society and the proceeds of the auction could be utilised to provide housing. The proceeds would also solve the funds crunch being faced by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Mr. Gowda said.

The former Prime Minister was critical of the government’s move to remove hurdles in allotting land to house building cooperative societies. Such a move would again encourage the land mafia, he warned and asked the government to continue with the existing system.

Diplomat row

With regard to the ill-treatment of Indian diplomat Devayani Khobragade in the U.S., Mr. Gowda said the Indian government should send out a proper message to that country.

On the Congress’s initiative to support the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to form the government in Delhi, Mr. Gowda said the AAP should remember the history where Congress in minority had supported other parties to form governments. Lessons have to be learnt from formation of governments right from Charan Singh till his government, he said cautioning the AAP.

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