Gowda writes to prime minister over move to amend Land Act

Gowda writes to prime minister over move to amend Land Act

JD(S) national president H D Deve Gowda on Thursday cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his move to amend the Land Acquisition Act to attract foreign investments and advised him to consider the controversial Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project as a case study before taking a final decision.

Addressing reporters here on Thursday, he said the Modi government has been diluting the Act through ordinance route to promote Public Private Partnership (PPP) in infrastructure corridors and industrial corridors. Infrastructure projects are highly dependent on lands owned by farmers. So they cannot escape detailed scrutiny as far as land acquisition is concerned, he added.

In a seven-page letter dated January 5 to Modi, Gowda has narrated in detail what he termed as a “horrifying” experience of the BMIC project, a PPP one. He has explained how as the then chief minister in 1995, he had speedily approved the infrastructure project as it involved foreign investments.

Subsequently, foreign investors from the US - SAB, Engineering Incorporation, USA, and Vanasse Hangsen Brustin Incorporation, USA – transferred all their rights to an Indian company, NICEL, and went back on their promise to bring foreign investments. NICEL has not been able to complete a single township so far even after acquiring 1,100 acres of excess land, he charged.

The JD(S) leader said a study into the BMIC project would help the Centre prepare guidelines for foreign investments in infrastructure sector. He advised Modi to get a preliminary inquiry done from former Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai into the project, before handing it over to the CBI.

He accused the State BJP of double standards while protesting against corrupt ministers. The party recently protested against three ministers in the Siddaramaiah government, but deliberately avoided another Cabinet minister, as one of its party leaders is also involved. “Why is BJP avoiding a particular minister when it is attacking Sudarshan (V R Sudarshan who is recommended for KPSC chairman post) and three other ministers?” he asked.

On Congress leaders criticising Legislative Assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa for pinpointing lapses in administration, he said it was improper to talk lightly about the Speaker. Kagodu has been going a good job as a Speaker, he added.

He said he had convened a meeting of JD(S) leaders and workers on January 24 at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru to chalk out plans to strengthen the party in the State.