'A' and 'B' of the khata scam

'A' and 'B' of the khata scam

'A' and 'B' of the khata scam

A nefarious nexus between corrupt revenue officials in the BBMP and real estate touts with political backing has cemented a well-entrenched scam. Property values are artificially hiked by conversion of ‘B’ ‘khatas to fake ‘A’ khatas

The khata scam (issuing bogus ‘A’ khatas to ‘B’ khata properties) that has now surfaced in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has not only stunned the property owners and the buyers, but also exposed serious lacunae in the Palike administration.

Maladministration in the BBMP, especially the Revenue department, has put the property buyers at  huge risk – a majority of whom will be spending their lifetime savings on realising their dream of owning a house. The Palike, which woke up from its slumber after this newspaper exposed the scam, has now decided to take legal action and there is a likelihood of all bogus khatas being cancelled in the coming days.

Leaky manual system

What is shocking is that the BBMP is still dependent on the age-old manual system of maintaining property records. The revenue officials in the newly-added areas of the BBMP – seven city municipal councils, one town municipal council and 110 villages -- manually enter all details in the property tax assessment register.

This gave scope for corrupt officials to play mischief: a large number of bogus entries have been made and illegal khata certificates (‘A’ khatas) have been issued to properties which actually come under ‘B’ khata category. Property registers in the old 100 wards (part of the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) have been computerised.

Property formed by violating the rules are entered in ‘B’ register (they are also called ‘B’ khata properties) and those formed as per the rules are entered in ‘A’ register and khata is issued. ‘A’ and ‘B’ khata registers are maintained to keep an account of property tax payment.

Common violations among ‘B’ khata or ‘B’ register properties are lack of conversion of land use (DC conversion in common parlance) and lack of approval from the local development authority (BDA in the case of BBMP).

800 bogus entries

As many as 800 such bogus entries in the assessment register have come to light recently in Bilekahalli, Bommanahalli and Hongasandra wards of Bommanahalli zone. And the fraudulent entries are still going on.

Joint Commissioner (Bommanahalli) Muniraju has in his report to the Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) M Venkatachalapati clearly stated that bogus entries are still continuing and that it has been difficult to identify those who are doing it.

Venkatachalapati admitted that there are hundreds of bogus khatas across all wards coming under the newly-added areas and that it cannot be controlled unless the government takes stringent measures.

A nexus between the corrupt revenue officials and the real estate touts has resulted in the scam. Many of these touts have the backing of local politicians. Once khata is converted from ‘B’ to ‘A’ (illegally), price of the property shoots up.

The BBMP has an estimated 2 lakh properties coming under ‘B’ khata category and a majority of them are in the newly added areas. Nationalised banks do not extend loans for buying ‘B’ khata properties nor do they give loan for constructing houses on them. The BBMP too has stopped sanctioning building plans for ‘B’ khata plots.

Illegal properties

Illegal property transaction is, in fact, thriving on the outskirts of the city. A large number of land developers and builders are into development of illegal properties. They are selling properties (which come under ‘B’ khata category) to gullible people, assuring that their properties will be regularised under the long-pending Akrama-Sakrama scheme.

Though the Karnataka High Court has in its order dated July 7, 2013 directed the government to stop registration of illegal properties (‘B’ khata properties), nothing has been done so far.

BDA Town Planning member Chowdegowda, however, says the Authority has not been able to prevent illegal layouts because of shortage of staff. BBMP Deputy Commissioner Venkatachalapathi informs that the Palike has now decided to digitise property tax assessment register in order to prevent its tampering.

“We will soon call a tender and award the work to scan all assessment registers. All Assistant Revenue Offices will be computerised soon,” he says.

According to K Prakasha Hegde, an advocate on property matters, illegal properties are wreaking havoc in the city. “Illegal layouts and apartments are the main reason for haphazard development of the city. Neither the BBMP nor the BDA is doing anything to prevent illegal residential layouts and apartment complexes coming up on the outskirts. The BBMP and the BDA have been incurring huge revenue losses by turning a blind eye to these illegal layouts and apartments,” he points out.

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