Govt to grab beggars' land

Orders transfer of colonys 123 acres to BDA for convention centre

Govt to grab beggars' land

A week ago, the State government, which is on the fast-track to accelerated urban development, issued an order that envisages transferring 123.30 acres of the 161.30-acre prime land on which the infamous Beggars’ Colony is located to the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA)  so it could construct a convention centre, a park and––guess what?––a hospital. Acting with alacrity, the BDA has obtained the necessary permission to utilise 30 per cent of the land.

The BDA proposes to relocate the Beggar Rehabilitation Centre, also referred to as the Beggars’ Colony, to the 38-acre plot on the northern side (beyond the pipeline) that will continue to remain with the Social Welfare Department for an estimated cost of Rs 40 crore.

According to the documents available with Deccan Herald, the BDA will take up commercial development to generate revenue required for relocating the centre. It is, however, yet to finalise its plans on commercially developing the prime land.
The State government transferred the land to the BDA despite stiff opposition from the Legislative Standing Committee for SC and ST Welfare. The committee had recommended that the entire land should continue to be in the possession of the Social Welfare Department so that it could take up future expansion of the colony, besides providing better facilities to the destitutes.

After the spate of deaths reported at the centre, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa declared that his government has no plans to relocate the centre or part with the land for setting up other facilities.

The government’s original plan was to hand over the entire 161.30 acres to the BDA and shift the Beggars’ Colony outside the City limits. A decision to this effect was taken in the Cabinet meeting on July 6, 2009, but the State Law Department raised objections.
In its opinion, the Law Department noted that the land at Srigandadakaval had been acquired with the sole purpose of rehabilitating beggars and vagrants and, therefore, the government could not now make use of the sprawling acres for some other purpose.
At the same time, the Revenue Department expressed its inability to provide an alternative plot (300 acres) where the colony was deigned to be shifted to the City’s outskirts. As a result, the government was forced to spare 30 acres for the Beggars’ Colony.

The total land has already shrunk since the government has already handed over five acres for the construction of a flyover and Babu Jagjivan Ram Bhavan. BDA Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena said the plan to take up various construction activities was being finalised in accordance with the government’s decision, adding that work on the projects will be taken up soon after getting the green signal from the government.
Social Welfare Department Principal Secretary E Venkataiah said though the government has issued the order, the land is yet to be physically handed over to BDA.  “It (handing over of land) will be done only after the BDA relocates the Beggars’ Colony. One of the conditions the BDA has to abide by is that it should first relocate the colony before taking up work on its development plans,” Venkataiah said.

Asked whether 30 acres will be enough space to house a facility that is already overcrowded —now, nearly 2,500 beggars and vagrants live in abysmal conditions at the colony —Venkataiah said the new centre will be designed on the basis of requirements. The department will fix the capacity for the new colony so that it does not get over-crowded, he added.
DH News Service

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