City realty boom sees rise in 'landless farm labourers'

City realty boom sees rise in 'landless farm labourers'

City realty boom sees rise in 'landless farm labourers'

The realty boom in City in the last two decades has resulted in substantial increase in the number of “landless farm labourers” with 10,000 acres of government land worth around Rs 50,000 crore allotted under Bagair Hukum scheme in five taluks of Bangalore Urban district.

Under the scheme, a maximum of four acres of land is given to marginalised farmers or landless farm labourers. The beneficiaries are given “cultivation slip” or “Saaguvali Cheeti.” The scheme does not apply to those owning more than four acres of land in any part of Karnataka.

Allotment of land under the scheme in Bangalore is governed by some restrictions. According to a decision taken in 1990s, such land should be allotted in the 18-km radius of the municipal corporation limits.

A total of at least 178 acres were allotted to various people at Bada Manvarthe Kaval of Kengeri hobli, said to be within 18-km radius of municipal limits. Recently, this has been increased to 25 km.

The expose

The scheme has come in handy for land sharks. On August 15, 2012, Deccan Herald had exposed two such “landless farm labourers” wherein former Bangalore Mayor D Venkatesh Murthy and his wife K Prabha were allotted four acres of land each in Somanahalli village of Uttarahalli hobli of Bangalore South taluk although Murthy himself admitted he had 30 acres of land near Anekal.

The story of Murthys prompted Deccan Herald to seek more information under RTI Act about the number of people allotted land since 1995 under the scheme in Bangalore South, Bangalore North, Bangalore North (additional), Bangalore East and Anekal taluks of Bangalore Urban district. The information sought was names, addresses of allottees, date of allotment, persons responsible for allotment and criteria for giving land.
After one and a half years of filing the RTI application and approaching Karnataka Information Commission, the two taluks of Bangalore South and Bangalore East provided information. The list of allottees in Bangalore South taluk raises doubts over allotment process.

As many as 1,600 people got 1,891 acres and 30 guntas of land in Bangalore South taluk since 1995. There are instances where land has been allotted in bulk to the same families.

For instance, in survey No 25 of Thattaguppe village, at least 28 people, belonging to one family, were given 41 acres. In another case, 15 acres of land was given to many people in a particular survey number of Vaddarapalya in Uttarahalli Hobli in 2009-10.

The names of some beneficiaries of Thattaguppe village are: Chinnappa, son of Anthappa; C Chowrappa, son of Chinnappa; C James, son of Chowrappa.
Anthoniswamy appears to be quite an influential landless labourer as his six children, Chowraju, Shantharaj, Rakesh, David, Arulappa and Thomas got one acres and 20 guntas each.

Cases registered

It was the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) which had registered cases against the then deputy chief minister R Ashoka, former mayor D Venkatesh Murthy, his wife K Prabha in 2012, and the then MLA of Rajarajeshwari Nagar, M Srinivas, for allegedly making bogus allotment to people in 2013.

 Srinivas is also accused of compelling allottees to transfer the land in his favour and then selling them without holding it for the mandatory 15 years’ period. Srinivas, however, claims BMTF charges as baseless, for, as chairperson of Bagair Hukum allotment committee, he had given land to some 800 eligible marginal farmers in Uttarahalli area.

JD(S) leader M V Prasad, who, too, got two acres of land in Uttari village of Uttarahalli Hobli, defended the allotment, stating: “I am a marginal farmer because our family holds little over five acres of land in Uttarahalli. If divided, it will be only 20 guntas of land. There are many sitting corporators of Bangalore among beneficiaries.”

 V Balasubramanian, who headed the Karnataka Government Land Protection Task Force, said no land can be given in villages which are within 18 km from BBMP limits and would be illegal if done. Balasubramanian said about 20,000 acres of government land had been encroached upon in Bangalore, which needed eviction.