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MUDA site row calls for impartial inquiry

MUDA site row calls for impartial inquiry

Leaders of all hues okayed a dubious scheme formulated by the BJP government.

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Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 21:37 IST
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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah finds himself in the eye of a storm with the Opposition accusing his wife Parvathi of being a beneficiary of a multi-crore ‘land scam’ in Mysuru. But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is demanding the chief minister’s scalp, may have to do a lot of explaining as the now controversial scheme was formulated when it was in power. According to documents released by RTI activists and the chief minister’s legal adviser A S Ponnanna, Parvathi was gifted a 3.16 acre parcel of land by her brother Mallikarjun Swamy in 2010 on the outskirts of Mysuru. Swamy had originally bought the land in 2004 from two Dalit farmers. This land was earlier sought to be acquired by the Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) and the final notification was issued in 1996-1997, with an indicative compensation of Rs 3.2 lakh. However, the acquisition process was dropped in 1998 and the land was denotified during Siddaramaiah’s earlier term as deputy chief minister. After this, the land was purchased by Swamy, and then gifted to his sister.

However, sometime later, MUDA acquired the same piece of land with some adjoining parcels, allegedly without issuing any notice to the owners. In 2014, during Siddaramaiah’s first term as chief minister, his wife approached MUDA and sought alternative sites in lieu of the land acquired. The file was kept pending until Siddaramaiah demitted office. When the BJP came to power in 2019, MUDA formulated a seemingly illegal scheme called 50:50 where owners who lost their lands even on the outskirts of Mysuru would be allotted high-value sites in prominent localities of the city. According to activists, over 6,000 such sites were allotted to various beneficiaries. Of these, Parvathi was allotted 14 sites, each measuring 30x40 feet. Interestingly, the scheme was scrapped by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government when it came to power in 2023.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013, provides for payment of handsome compensation to those who lose their land. Still, MUDA’s 50:50 scheme appears to have been framed to help certain influential people make windfall gains over and above the provisions of law. The needle of suspicion points towards all three major parties, the Congress, the BJP, and the JD(S) as their MLAs from Mysuru region were MUDA members when the controversial decision was taken. Thus, any inquiry conducted by the state or Central government agencies will be an eyewash. The ends of justice will be served only if the government constitutes a special task force (STF) to be monitored by a sitting High Court judge.

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