KHB land grab case: ACB books 46 persons, arrests 5

KHB land grab case: ACB books 46 persons, arrests 5

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has filed a case against 46 persons, including the son and brother of a JD(S) MLA, and has arrested five persons, including two engineers, in the Karnataka Housing Board (KHB) land acquisition scam, on Tuesday.

The arrested have been identified as Assistant Executive Engineer M B Somasekhar, Assistant Engineer M Mahesh, and middlemen Jnaneshwar, Vijay Kumar and N B Vasu. Based on a report of the Lokayukta, the ACB had filed the case on Monday.

The names of G D Harish Gowda, and Yaduvar, MLA G T Devegowda's son and younger brother respectively, figure in the FIR. As Devegowda represents Chamundeshwari Assembly constituency, which is Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's choice for the upcoming polls, the case and the arrests assume political significance.

Devegowda was the chairman of the KHB in the year 2008-09, when 81 acres of lands in Gungral Chatra, Kalluru Naganahalli and Yalchanahalli under Ilval hobli of Mysuru taluk, were acquired at the rate of Rs 36.50 lakh per acre. Following the complaints that there were violations in the sales and also the acquisition of the lands in question, a Lokayukta probe had been initiated.

It was alleged that the KHB officials had misused the funds released to compensate the farmers whose lands were acquired. Hence, the Lokayukta had recommended filing of a criminal case against the accused.

The Lokayukta report states that Devegowda's personal assistant Ramakrishna admitted that the middlemen used to meet Devegowda and would also speak to him over phone. "The officials had not revealed that Rs 36.50 lakh was sanctioned per acre of land. Earlier, in 2007 itself the middlemen had either bought or had secured power of attorney for the lands for lesser prices, with the knowledge that the lands would be acquired by the KHB. The middlemen have exploited the ignorance of the farmers," the report says.

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