At least 5,000-odd acres of prime chunks of land, recovered last year by the Bengaluru Urban development authorities and slotted for the poor and the homeless, are now being eyed people in the garb of the homeless and backward classes.
The urban development department (UDD) is flooded with applications from several organisations for land allotment to be done for the poor and the homeless. And these are being backed by powerful real estate lobbies to pocket the prime land parcels.
Interestingly, all these applications come with the location of land that is already identified for the “beneficiaries” – with survey numbers and areas.
Among the several applications, on November 11, the urban development department received a request from a backward classes commission to allot 29.07 acre land in two places – survey numbers 24, 25 in Lakshmipura in Bengaluru North Dasanapura and survey number 28 in Kengeri hobli in Bengaluru south taluk – to be made into sites for the poor and the homeless.
To debate over the issue, the UDD convened a meeting on December 26, chaired by additional chief secretary, in which the application was turned down stating that “the proposal was not found in the housing board and the land in question belongs to the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike)’’.
The real story, as senior officials in the UDD and housing departments explained to media, is: “Ever since the DC (deputy commissioner) Bengaluru Urban has freed thousands of acres of government land from land grabbers, these prime assets are being eyed by the realty sector. Government is under massive pressure to allot land for the homeless and there is a clear order from the state and Union governments about restricting land allotment in urban areas. It is very clear that once the land is granted to poor or backward classes, it is, in turn, turned into a realty deal. In fact, there is a state government order not to allot land in city areas for housing.’’
In January 2011, the UDD issued an order restricting allotment of land for the homeless and ordered going for vertical growth. This is in tune with the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Union government.
The JNNURM advisory, among other directives, stated: “State governments are facing difficulties in expanding the current land availability, to meet the existing and projected growth in urban population, especially land for urban poor and slum dwellers. Hence, the cities taking up slum development would have to explore vertical construction so that the existing pressure on habitable land in urban areas could be eased.’’ “Slums and poor class is a huge vote bank and in the current context, real estate is an influencing factor. These two factors are being taken advantage of by powerful lobbies, an officer said.
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Credits Bangalore Mirror