State tells SC it won't denotify NICE land

Bench grants eight weeks time to review projects progress and file report

State tells SC it won't denotify NICE land

A bench headed by Justice V S Sirpurkar ordered the State Government to maintain status quo after Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) expressed its apprehension on allocation of land to the project contractor.

Karnataka Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli said the State Government was cooperating in implementing the multi-billion rupee BMIC Project. ‘’The State is finally implementing the project,’’ he added.

When Dushyant Dave, Advocate for project contractor NICE expressed his apprehension, Harnahalli assured the bench that there would be no change in land holding till the next date of hearing. Dave said the State Government was planning to denotify about 7,000 acres of land meant for the project.

The bench also granted eight weeks time to the State to file its report after a high level committee headed by the Chief Minister reviewed the progress of the project. The Apex Court said it would hear the matter in the second week of July after reopening of the courts after summer vacation.

‘’It is submitted that the high level committee meeting could not be held due to the fact the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike elections came to be declared and that the committee meeting can only be held after completion of the entire election process,’’ said the application filed by the State Government.

Order followed

On the earlier date, Harnahalli had submitted that the work in the project has been carried out as per the order in the Somashekhar Reddy case by the Apex Court and MoU signed by the authorities with the project contractor NICE. In accordance with the Apex Court order a high level committee headed by the CM and comprising 17 secretary-level officers had been constituted to supervise the execution of the project.

According to the framework agreement (FWA) signed on April 5, 1997 between the Karnataka government and the developers, the NICE had the right to saleable land of 5937.3 acres in five townships which was worth Rs 31,250 crore at the lower spectrum of the present value, whereas the cost to construct the expressway, peripheral road and link road would be maximum Rs 3000 crore.  The company had been also given the right to collect toll tax for 30 years, which would be in billion of rupees, said the application filed earlier by Karnataka.

The Karnataka High Court in its judgment delivered on September 21, 1998 in the Somashekhar Reddy case held that the company was entitled to sell only 45 percent of the available land in the five townships and the roads would be handed over to the government after the lapse of the lease period. The Supreme Court in its judgment on April 20, 2006 had upheld the Karnataka High Court order and directed the parties to stick to the clauses of the original agreement.


Media hounding me: Harnahalli

Karnataka Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that he needed protection from media persons and newspapers. A bench comprising Justices V S Sirpurkar, M K Sharma and R M Lodha was perplexed to hear such an unusual request from the top law officer of the State at the end of the hearing of the NICE matter.

Justice Sirpurkar asked, “Why do you want protection?’’

Harnahalli: “My Lord! I am being hounded by the mediapersons. I need protection.’’
Justice Sirpurkar: “Go to the newspapers. We cannot grant you protection.’’ 

An experienced former Madhya Pradesh Advocate General and Senior Advocate A G Chaudhury appearing for a respondent in the matter retorted, “These are all professional hazards. You will have to live with them.”

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