Karnataka cabinet rescinds decision on Beggars Relief Centre land

Karnataka cabinet rescinds decision on Beggars Relief Centre land

Cancels allotment of 123.3 acres rehab centre land to the BDA

The State Cabinet on Friday decided to cancel allotment of 123.3 acres belonging to the Central Relief Centre, also known as the Beggars’ Colony, to the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).  

Briefing reporters, Law Minister Suresh Kumar said the Cabinet, following a direction from the Karnataka High Court, rescinded its move to hand over the land at Sumanahalli on Magadi Main Road to the BDA for construction of a convention hall, a hospital and a park.

The then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had taken the decision to hand over the prime land for commercial purpose, despite opposition from the Law and Revenue departments. The land was officially transferred in an order dated June 6, 2010. 

However, the transfer of the land came under scrutiny after the deaths of a large number of inmates of the centre due to mismanagement. 

Besides, criticisms grew against the transfer of land for constructing a convention centre, a star hotel, commercial and retail centre, office space and entertainment centre over land spanning 113.30 acres. 

The Rashtrothan Sankalp Trust filed a PIL, challenging the government’s move which, it argued, would defeat the very purpose of acquiring the land meant for rehabilitating the beggars. Besides, the petitioner argued, the public money spent on the construction activity in 2008 would go waste. 

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna, directed the government to cancel the allotment of land to the BDA and return it to the Social Welfare Department, which runs the rehabilitation centre. 

However, the BDA had surreptitiously hired consultants to give a design concept for the area and had made futile attempts to put its board over the Beggars Colony land; it had even called for Expression of Interest – all while the case was being adjudicated and a status quo had been ordered.

Buckling under the pressure of criticisms, the government, which had earlier defended its decision to give the land to the BDA, later submitted to the Court that the land would be returned to the Beggars’ Colony.

The Social Welfare Department, which too came under flak for their handling of the beggars’ colony, has now identified the beggars, maintained their biometric and health records. The rehab centre now has proper paramedical staff and counseling facility for the inmates. The centre arranges a host of activities such as skills enhancement, yoga and reading for its inmates, whose number has reduced to 300 now.