Now Karnataka industries minister under scanner for land scam

October 29th, 2011 - 3:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, Oct 29 (IANS) Just a day ahead of senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani’s anti-corruption yatra enters the state, Karnataka Police Saturday began probe into charges that state Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani received kickbacks in a land scam.

Nirani joins the growing list of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians, including former chief minister B.S.Yeddyurappa, to face a police probe into kickbacks and corruption cases involving large chunks of land in and around Bangalore.

Nirani, it has been alleged, freed from government control some lands near Bangalore and restored these to original owners, who made a killing selling it to builders and others and gave the industries minister and his family huge kickbacks.

The police attached to Lokayukta (ombudsman) registered a first information report (FIR), marking the formal beginning of investigation against Nirani, a Lokayukta spokesperson told reporters here.

The FIR names Nirani, his brother H.R. Nirani and seven others, the spokesperson said.

The probe follows a directive of the Lokayukta special court Judge N.K. Sudhindra Rao Oct 24 on a complaint by builder Alam Pasha.

Rao is an additional sessions judge who functions as the Lokayukta special court for speedy disposal of corruption cases.

Rao has given police time till Nov 16 to complete the probe.

The FIR registration comes a day ahead of senior BJP leader L.K. Advani’s Jan Chetna Yatra, a roadshow to mobilise people against corruption, enters Karnataka.

Alam Pasha has alleged that Nirani had freed from official control some government land, a process called denotification, on Bangalore outskirts for monetary gain.

Nirani is accused of denotifying 20 acres near Devanahalli and seven acres at Dobbaspet, which had been acquired by the government-run Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB).

Land costs at Devanahalli, about 35 km north of the city centre, have gone through the roof in recent years as the new Bangalore International Airport has come up in the area.

Dobbaspet is an old industrial area where too land costs are going up as it is only 20 km further north from the international airport.

Pasha alleged that Nirani abused his office to get the 27 acres denotified, which meant the land went back to the original owners who in turn sold it at a huge rate and the industries minister benefited monetarily from this deal.

Pasha did not mention the money that Nirani allegedly made from this denotification process.

Nirani is the second BJP minister in the D.V. Sadananda Gowda cabinet to face a police probe into land grab.

On Oct 20, Rao had ordered police attached to Lokayutka to investigate charges against state Home Minister R. Ashoka. He is accused of getting about half an acre of land denotified in north Bangalore and acquiring it at less than market rate because of his clout as a minister.

The next day, the Lokayukta police registered an FIR against Ashoka.

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