Here’s how to dejargonise Karnataka land scam (Letter from Bangalore)

By V.S. Karnic, IANS
Thursday, November 18, 2010

BANGALORE - ‘G’ category sites, denotification, KIADB, ‘putra vyamoha’… among the frequently uttered words these days in Karnataka where land grabbing has reached scandalous proportions with allegations levelled against no less than the chief minister.

To fathom what exactly has been alleged, read on.

‘G’ category sites are sought after as they are mostly in prime residential areas of the nation’s tech hub Bangalore. These are in housing localities developed by the Bangalore Development Authority.

Chief ministers enjoy exclusive rights over allotment of these sites, meant mainly for people who achieved eminence but do not own a residential property in Bangalore.

However, over the years most of these plots have gone to political leaders, their relatives, powerful bureaucrats and movers and shakers in the power corridors of Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat.

The price of these sites varies. The biggest size of 4,000 sq ft (50ftX80ft) in a posh locality comes at less than Rs.10 lakh ($21,000). However, the market price for such a plot is a minimum of Rs.1 crore ($220,000).

Denotification is another process that can be used to help the favoured in land allotment for residential, industrial or commercial purposes.

KIADB (Karntaka Industrial Areas Development Board) is the government agency that acquires land for various projects by ‘notifying’ the owners that their land is being taken over after payment of compensation.

The governments can subsequently ‘denotify’ the land, freeing it from its control. The freed land can be allotted to people at a price much lower than the market price as KIADB had bought it paying minimum compensation on the basis that the area was taken over ‘for public benefit’.

‘Putra vyamoha’ is in the air as the latest scandal rocking Karnataka involves Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and his sons.

Yeddyurappa has sanctioned a “G’ category site in Raja Mahal Vilas Extension, a prime residential locality in Bangalore, to one of his sons B.Y. Raghavendra, who is a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and has two residential properties already in Bangalore.

Raghavendra and his sibling B.Y. Vijeyendra also got a two acre plot of industrial land near Bangalore in 2007 when Yeddyurappa was deputy chief minister. They got the land for an auto component manufacturing company within 15 days of applying for it. In the normal course, it would take months for allotment.

Yeddyurappa had defended the allotments to his sons saying he has not broken any rule.

The chief minister is also accused of making favoured land allotments to his daughter, son-in-law, sister and her son and daughter-in-law.

Insisting that he has done what his predecessors did, Yeddyurappa has announced he will request a retired Supreme Court judge to probe all land deals in Bangalore in the last 10 years.

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