While the BJP is out to take the fight to its ‘logical end’, the developments seem to have emboldened disgruntled elements in the Congress
The Arkavathi Layout issue has caused a flutter in the government, the principal Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other stakeholders, including site owners. The layout that was planned by Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to provide plots to 8,813 people is in the eye of the storm. Site owners are a worried and harried lot, but not the government. Whose fault is it anyway?
While Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has announced a judicial probe into the alleged denotifications from 2003 to 2014, the BJP is out to take the fight to its “logical end”. This despite the party leader and the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa facing allegations of corruption in a case relating to denotification of land.
Though the BJP, led by the former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, broached the issue on the floor of the Legislative Assembly recently, targeting the Chief Minister, Mr. Yeddyurappa, who is out on bail, was not willing to back his party’s campaign.
However, these developments appear to have emboldened the disgruntled elements in the Congress. Party old timers who have been refused ministerial berths by Mr. Siddaramaiah are inclined to “settle scores” by turning the tables against the Chief Minister, according to highly placed sources in the party. The feeling that Mr. Siddaramaiah is an “outsider” (he was earlier with the Janata Dal) and he still goes by his coterie in the government has remained an irksome factor for those opposing him within the party since he assumed charge.
The BJP wants to show its resilience, with an eye on the elections to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike council and gram panchayats. So, in line with the directions from party’s national president Amit Shah, it is targeting the “head” of the government as it feels “if the king is down, the war is won”.
The Arkavathi project has been hanging fire ever since the BDA notified 3,839.12 acres for the Layout in 2004. However, there were several “players” at work to denotify large tracts of the layout land, leaving it currently with just 1,766.07 acres.
Mr. Shettar is firm on his allegation that the Congress government had denotified land allegedly for monetary considerations. The allegation is that the land acquired was denotified and the owners were paid Rs. 2 crore an acre by middlemen in connivance with the BDA and the government. In turn, the land was resold to realtors at Rs. 15 crore an acre and middlemen made huge profits all these years.
The government argues that an extent of 983.33 acres was left out according to the six guidelines of the High Court. The guidelines are: if the lands are located in the greenbelt area, if they are totally built-up, properties wherein are buildings constructed by charitable, educational or religious institutions, nursery lands, if the owners had set up factories, and if the lands are similar to those which are adjoining them but not notified for acquisition at all.
It is the immense value of the land that matters the most for many as the layout closely aligns with the road leading to the Kempegowda International Airport. And, the hand of the real estate lobby appears dominantly in the entire episode.