CM to meet Defence Minister over defence land swap deal

CM to meet Defence Minister over defence land swap deal

Projects stalled owing to a confusion between the BBMP and the defence department may soon see the light of the day.

With Chief Minister Siddaramaiah meeting the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday, the confusion over land exchange deal between the BBMP and defence ministry will likely  end, which has stalled 22 projects.

Sources in the chief minister's office said the land exchange deal will be taken up on priority. The BBMP officials were busy re-surveying the defence land over the last two days and seeking permission from the defence authorities to use drones for measurement of the area.

The BBMP has sought land from the defence ministry for 23 projects some of which have been pending for years. In exchange, the Palike has offered 209 acres of land, including 207 acres in Tammanayakanahalli.

The incomplete Byappanahalli road over bridge (ROB) is a stark example of the lack of coordination between officials at different levels of governance. Road and railway traffic continues to be interrupted at Byappanahalli since the work on ROB was halted five years ago following objections by the defence department.

The bridge eliminates a railway level crossing on the road connecting Banaswadi with Old Madras Road. The railway gate is closed more than 60 times a day. At least 10 trains pass the stretch during the morning and evening peak hours when traffic snarls stretch for nearly a kilometre.

"Sometimes, the gate is closed for more than 20 minutes. Waiting for the train to pass during evenings is excruciating," said Vinod Mathur, who travels between Banaswadi and Swami Vivekananda Metro Station every day.

In 2011, the South Western Railways took up the work at a cost of about Rs 20 crore. The elevated approach way and the deck were built within a year when the defence red-flagged the project.

The years that followed have witnessed a series of meetings, exchange of letters and even a government order in August 2016, allotting alternative land to the defence department in exchange for the 2.46 acres at Byappanahalli.

The BBMP officials said they have offered 2.14 acres, including Kensington Road swimming pool and about 1 acre that was leased out to the Madras Engineering Group over 50 years ago. "The defence department has replied recently, highlighting the differences in the cost of the land. The cost of the BBMP land is higher than the defence land," sources said.

While a survey by defence officials has found the BBMP land costlier by over Rs 20 crore, a BBMP survey puts the difference at only about Rs 1.5 crore. The gap has led to a confusion with the file going nowhere.

"Officials have met two defence ministers over the last five years and travelled to Delhi several times to find a solution. We hope to find a solution soon," the source added.

While defence officials did not reply to queries sent by DH, BBMP Special Commissioner (Projects) B M Vijaya Shankar said: "We are keen on the project. A meeting with the Defence Minister is set to take place on December 2. We hope a solution would be found soon."

DH News Service

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