New system to make land acquisition easy for HBCSs

New system to make land acquisition easy for HBCSs

Single-window clearance may end illegal transactions, bring down land prices

The State government is all set to introduce a single-window clearance system to make land acquisition less cumbersome for house building co-operative societies (HBCSs) for their projects.

The co-operation department, which has taken the initiative to introduce a transparent system for land acquisition, will act as a facilitator for the Societies to get the conversion of agriculture land for non-agriculture purpose and also regulate the sale of land to the Societies by individuals.

It may be recalled that the government, in its budget 2013-14, had said that it will set up a committee of experts to dwell into various Acts to suggest safeguards and ‘protect the interests of the land owners and the public who purchase sites from the HBCSs’.

Registrar of Co-operative Societies Chennappa Gowda said the government is studying the models adopted by Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh where land acquisition for housing purposes is streamlined.

A team of officials is already in those states to get the details, he said. Gowda said that the department had already received complaints from the Societies that there is a delay in the conversion process of agriculture land.

At the same time, there are many HBCSs circumventing the law to acquire land for layout formation.

Presently, any bulk land acquisition by a Society has to be approved by the
State government under Section 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961.

Conversion of land

Undue delay in approving the conversion of land for housing purpose has encouraged illegal acquisitions. The most common way of circumventing the law is to acquire the agriculture land through a middleman/broker/developer and then sell it to members.

Gowda said that in several places, there have been legal impediments in recognising the layouts formed by the Societies due to the illegal mode of transactions.

The proposed single window system would regulate the land acquisition process, he said.

Co-operation Minister H S Mahadeva Prasad said the government will only play a regulatory role and not interfere in the acquisition. The proposed regulation would help in reducing land prices, presently inflated due to large-scale illegal land acquisitions, he said.

The proposed single window agency or clearance committee may include the Revenue Minister, Principal Secretary to the Revenue department and the Principal Secretary to the Co-operation department. There will be a cap on acquisition of land by the societies at 50 acres.

As per the department website, there are as many as 1,503 HBCSs in the State. Of these no less than 240, including 55 with a turnover of Rs 25 crore per year, are in Bangalore. The total extent of land the Societies hold is close to 25,000 acres in the State.

While the government is trying to streamline the land acquisition process by the Societies, a complaint of alleged illegal activities has been registered against the Telecom Employees’ Co-operative Housing Society.

The complaint claims that the Society, during its acquisition of 235 acres of land in Sarjapura and Jala hoblis, Bangalore, evaded stamp duty.

It is claimed by the citizens that in certain cases, the Revenue department officials also colluded with the office bearers of the HBCSs by registering blank documents at the Anekal sub-registrar office. In total, the Society had acquired 797 acres of land in Bangalore.