Maker of Mavallipura landfill figures in 43-year-old 'lake grab'

Maker of Mavallipura landfill figures in 43-year-old 'lake grab'

The man credited with giving Bengaluru the infamous landfill concept is  now accused of a lake grab scam that unfolded  over  43 years.  

The Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) has directed the authorities to initiate action against S B Hanumantharayappa, a class-1 contractor, for allegedly encroaching on 5.13 acres of Nanjundapura Lake near Yelahanka, four decades after his family first laid claim  to the water body, documents show.

The lake is located in survey number 64/1 of Jarakabande Kaval village, Yelahanka hobli in Bengaluru North taluk. The KLCDA authorities, after an inspection, found that Hanumantharayappa had dug a borewell to pump the lake water out.  

On October 25, KLCDA chief executive officer Seema Garg directed the Vadderahalli panchayat to "fence the lake, clear the encroachment and take action". The lake is not far from the Mavallipura landfill, where Hanumantharayappa allowed the BBMP to dump the city's waste on a piece of land he claimed he owned.

It was in 1974, under the landmark land-to-the-tiller policy, that Hanumantharayappa's father Bylappa claimed the rights on the lake land. In 1982, the Bengaluru North taluk land tribunal rejected the claim as "it is a tank bed and comes under the reserved category". In May 1988, six years later, the same land tribunal granted Bylappa occupancy rights in survey numbers 64/1 (lake), 70, 72 and 76.

The High Court of Karnataka, in 2006, struck down the 1988 order when other claimants challenged it. The court observed that the order "was blatantly illegal" as the tribunal chairman and members had signed it on different dates. Curiously, even as the case was pending before the court, Bylappa was given Form 10 (occupying certificate) for the lake land in 1997 and an entry was made in the mutation register in 2000. Apparently, the office of the Bengaluru North (Additional) tahsildar does not have the original 1988 order or the Form 10 in its files.

At present, the lake has almost lost its characteristics. Locals allege that Hanumantharayappa is "enjoying" the land whereas it should be earmarked for public use. As per revenue records, it is a 'B' Kharab (non-cultivable land belonging to the government). Hanumantharayappa, however, claimed that the 5.13 acres of the Kharab land was in his family's name. "So, the question of encroachment does not arise," he argued. "The land was granted to my family way back in 1956 by the then Mysore Kingdom's jodidar N K Surappa."

The latest record of rights, tenancy and crops (RTC), however, does not reflect this. "I'm ready to regularise the kharab land," he said later.

Hanumantharayappa said locals were targetting him by raking up the lake issue. "I initiated the first landfill pilot project in Mavallipura, where I signed an agreement with the BBMP in the early 2000s to dump waste on land that I owned. I was paid Rs 75,000 per week for 100-150 trucks and Rs 6,000-7,000 for using the land. The villagers are angry they didn't get any share in this," he said. It is also alleged that the waste was illegally dumped on the land owned by others, including the Forest Department.

By the time dumping stopped, lakhs of tonnes of waste accumulated over years  is believed to have contaminated groundwater in the area. Hanumantharayappa blamed the BBMP "for failing to segregate or process the waste".  

History of a 'lake grab'

* Contractor S B Hanumantharayappa's family laid claim  to 5.13 acres of Nanjundapura Lake in  1974. In the early 2000s, Hanumantharayappa signed an agreement with BBMP to  dump waste on another piece of land that he said he owned.  

* Land tribunal granted occupancy over the lake land in 1988.

* HC struck down the 1988 order in 2006.  

* 1988 order of the land tribunal missing from the tahsildar's office.

* The land is 'B' Kharab as per revenue records.

* Vadderahalli panchayat asked to reclaim lake, act against the encroacher.  

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