22,000 acres govt land in Bengaluru stuck in litigation

22,000 acres govt land in Bengaluru stuck in litigation

Bengaluru encroachment

Large tracts of government land in and around Bengaluru worth thousands of crores are under litigation, making them unfit for public projects. As a result, projects are often delayed for want of suitable land.

According to the Karnataka Public Lands Corporation (KPLC), a whopping 22,199 acres are litigated. KPLC is a state-run body set up in 2008 tasked with protecting the government’s immovable assets. It liaises with deputy commissioners to ensure government land is not encroached. 

Across Karnataka, there are 63.84 lakh acres of government land, of which 11.75 lakh acres are encroached.

Shortage of suitable land has been cited as one of the reasons for the Chief Minister’s ambitious Bengaluru 1-lakh Housing scheme going vertical, in that affordable flats will now be constructed in G+14 buildings against the originally planned G+3. Last year, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) faced difficulty in finding suitable land to set up Indira Canteens.

“We cannot touch land that is under litigation,” KPLC managing director N V Prasad said. “However, litigation over government land goes case by case. Most of the time, government land is recovered from encroachment only after ascertaining there will not be litigation thereafter,” he said.

According to official records, about 12,000 acres of government land (out of the 22,199 acres) in the city district are pending for regularisation under Sections 94A and 94B of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964. A senior Revenue official said there was no need for authorities to entertain such requests because regularisation of unauthorised occupancy or cultivation cannot be allowed within 18 km of the municipal limits. Another 2,000 acres of government land are stuck in court cases.

Over 7,000 acres of government land are virtually locked because they have been encroached for ‘public purpose’ such as roads, bus stands and other civic amenities.

Bengaluru Urban is the only district in Karnataka where government land is recorded as being encroached under the ‘public purpose’ category.

Recovered land
Since December 2013, the Bengaluru Urban district administration has recovered 16,029 acres of government land from encroachment and these lands are available for use in various public projects. Officials claim that these lands are free of any encumbrance. Still, public projects always fall short of land.

Former additional chief secretary V Balasubramanian, who headed a state-appointed Task Force on Recovery of Public Lands, explains why: “What they show in their record is just paper clearance. In reality, the land still remains encroached. Encroachment removal is a farce in Bengaluru.”