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BDA gave land and compensation to biz partner of CM's son

Ambarish B & P M Raghunandan, April 17, 2016, Bengaluru, dhns 3:53 IST

No provision to give alternative land

 Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. DH File Photo.
The Bangalore Development Authority has not only allotted prime land in Hebbal to Shanta Industrial Enterprise, owned by business partner of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's son, but also offered monetary compensation as quoted by the company.

The BDA had deposited Rs 29,09,335 in the City Civil Court in 1987 as monetary compensation for having acquired 2,32,008 sq feet of land owned by the firm at survey # 174 and 175 of Kethamaranahalli (now Mahalakshmi Layout). Interestingly, the BDA went ahead with allotting alternative land of 2.11 acres in Hebbal in January this year to the firm though the compensation amount lies with the the court. The land is part of HBR Layout and its value is estimated at Rs 150 crore.

Dr Rajesh Gowda, one of the owners of Shanta Industrial Enterprise, is also the founder-director of Matrix Imaging Solutions in which Siddaramaiah's younger son Yathindra is a director. Matrix has run into a controversy for bagging a government contract to set up a superspeciality laboratory at Victoria hospital recently.

According to BDA land acquisition Act, the land losers were entitled to only monetary compensation. The government a few years ago introduced a new acquisition policy whereby the land losers may either take monetary compensation or 40 % of the developed land. But there is no provision in the Act to give alternative land in lieu of acquisition.

Besides, it has now come to light that the BDA took the decision to allot the alternative land to Shanta Industrial Enterprise only on the basis of legal opinion. The BDA appears to have been eager to favour the firm after 2013 – when Siddaramaiah became the Chief Minister. Though the firm had filed a petition in 2011 seeking alternative land, the Authority had not taken any action.

Documents accessed by this paper revealed that the BDA had arrived at the compensation amount of Rs 29,09,335 as requested by the company. The then Managing Director of Shanta Industrial, G K Srinivas had on October 6, 1977 given his consent to accept the compensation at the rate of Rs 20 per sq ft. Subsequently, the BDA deposited the compensation amount in court.

This apart, documents revealed that the BDA had spent Rs 2.25 lakh for obtaining legal opinion before allotting the land. The BDA paid Rs 45,000 to Supreme Court advocate E V Venugopal and Rs 1.80 lakh to retired Supreme Court judge A R Lakshmanan in April 2014. The advocates opined that “the BDA was open to allot alternative lands commensurate to the value of the lands that have already been acquired from the person interested without following the procedure of law, in lieu of cash compensation.”

Saga of prime land

Survey #174 & 175 of Kethamaranahalli (now Mahalakshmi layout) owned by Mahalakshmi Woolen and Silk Mills Company in 1965.

High Court ordered liquidation of the company land in 1974.

Shantha Industrial Enterprises purchased the land in auction done as part of liquidation in 1975.

But BDA acquired 2,32,008 sq ft of the firm's land to form Mahalakshmi layout in 1975.

The firm petitioned the then govt in Sept 2011 to give alternative land.

BDA obtained legal opinion from SC advocate on the petition in March 2014.

BDA allotted 2.11 acres of land near Hebbal in Jan 2016.

Karnataka HC upheld the BDA's decision in Feb 2016.

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