Govt bends rules for builder

Ramaswamy blows lid off land scam involving crores of rupees

Head of the erstwhile Legislature Committee on encroachment of government land in Bangalore A T Ramaswamy on Wednesday said the State government has given away valuable land to a private builder in exchange of a plot of a lesser value by flouting all the rules.

A City-based builder Yousuff Shariff had in November 2008 successfully bid for 12.24 acre land in Kothaganoor village of Bangalore east taluk at Rs 4.94 crore (Rs 40 lakh per acre) after participating in an auction conducted by the Revenue department.

“He took possession of only 5.37 acre. He informed the department that he had not been able to take possession of the remaining 6.27 acre because of opposition from the local people. The department, through its order dated April 1, 2010, handed over the same extent of land at Doddajala of Bangalore north (additional) taluk (close to Bengaluru international airport) at Rs 60 lakh per acre. Yousuff had petitioned to the Revenue Minister Karunakara Reddy to hand over the land. The market value of the land in Doddajala is Rs one crore to three crore per acre,” Ramaswamy alleged at a press conference.

Auction cancelled

The Revenue department, he charged, had cancelled the auction of the land in Doddajala twice citing under-bid value as the reason. When the department tried to auction the land in October 2007, the highest bid per acre was Rs 77 lakh. Yousuff himself was a bidder at Rs 76 lakh for this land. But the department cancelled the auction stating that the market value was much higher. Later in September 2009 re-auction was conducted, but that too was cancelled without citing any reason.

The Revenue department subsequently gave away the land in Doddajala to Yousuff despite the Karnataka Public Lands Corporation advising against it.

Huge loss

“The Corporation had told the department that there was no provision for exchange of land in favour of a bidder in the rule book and the government is going to incur huge loss. Moreover, there was no obligation on part of the government towards the bidders as far as auction was concerned. Still the land was given in exchange. This is an act of impropriety apart from being illegal,” Ramaswamy, who is a JD(S) leader, said.

He further alleged that out of 643 acre land auctioned by the department so far at Rs 540 crore between 2005 and 2009, Yousuff has bought 283 acre for Rs 280 crore on behalf of five companies as a GPA holder. “He is the single biggest beneficiary of the land auction. Most of the auctions appear to be rigged,” he alleged.

This apart, the department has gone out of the way to help the builder. It had approached the BDA to change the land use for some portion of auctioned plots that were falling in the green belt, he alleged.

Ramaswamy urged the government to order Lokayukta probe into the scam, besides cancelling its order to exchange the land.

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