Karnataka fares poorly in protecting public lands (Bangalore Newsletter)July 8th, 2011 - 1:33 pm ICT by IANS
Bangalore, July 8 (IANS) Karnataka may be struggling to acquire land for industry and infrastructure, but ironically it has a poor record in preventing illegal occupation of land.
Around 1.2 million acres of public land across the state have been encroached, says a government appointed panel.
In and around Bangalore, where land has become a precious commodity, about 40,000 acres have been encroached, the panel headed by former senior bureaucrat V. Balasubramanian has found. Balasubramanian retired as additional chief secretary of Karnataka in 2001.
Moreover, fake ownership documents had been prepared for about 25,000 acres close to the Bangalore International airport.
The total value of these lands would be Rs.25,000 crore, the panel said in its report “Greed and Connivance” submitted to the government Monday.
The damning findings come at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is facing stiff resistance from political parties and farmers to its ambitious drive for a land bank of over 100,000 acres to attract investors.
The BJP government, led by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa himself, is also fighting various land scams of its own.
These encroachments have unfolded over several years.
The Balasubramanian panel was set up in 2009 by the Yeddyurappa government following a report by a legislature committee that around 40,000 acres of land had been encroached in Bangalore alone. The legislature panel gave its report in 2007.
The latest report puts Yeddyurappa also in a spot as it found that his principal secretary I.S.N. Prasad had in November last year written to the deputy commissioner of Chikmagalur district “not to take precipitative action” against forest land encroachers in the area.
The panel found that about 35,000 acres of forest land have been encroached, mostly by coffee planters, in Chikmagalur, a coffee plantation-rich district 200 km from Bangalore.
Yeddyurappa, already hit by allegations of favouring his kin with prime land in and around Bangalore, has not reacted to this particular finding. He has, however, said steps will be taken to recover the encroached lands.
The panel has fonud that in Bangalore lakes, areas meant for civic amenities like parks and even drainage have been encroached by realtors, hoteliers, timber merchants, shopkeepers and builders of “instant temples”.
It notes that over 1,800 acres of the lake area have been encroached in Bangalore.
Blocking of drainage is one of the main reasons for the IT hub coming to a virtual standstill for a few hours during heavy rains as the roads are flooded.
The problem has become serious and the state high court has been pulling up the Bangalore civic authorities and Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for failure to clear the drainage encroachment.
The court is now hearing a public interest petition on the city civic authorities’ failure to remove the encroachment.
On July 5, Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice H.G. Ramesh were told by Advocate General Ashok Haranahalli that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (Greater Bangalore City Corporation) has identified 400 encroachments and cleared around 270 of them.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: ambitious drive, balasubramanian, bharatiya janata party, bureaucrat, chief minister, chief secretary, coffee plantation, connivance, deputy commissioner, encroachments, forest land, illegal occupation, land scams, million acres, ownership documents, planters, prasad, precious commodity, principal secretary, stiff resistance