BDA: file missing for land worth Rs.200 crores

The case of a missing file of land worth over Rs 200 crore, at the from Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), has failed to make any progress. Nobody seems to know where the documents are, and even five months after an enquiry was ordered to trace it, the BDA’s vigilance wing is asking for more time. This has led to talks of vested interests deliberately keeping the file out of the public eye.

The incident has brought under scanner a chain of officials and ministers who decided to give the land – meant to house the poor under the Ashraya scheme – to a private trust.

The Karnataka Information Commission had ordered an inquiry into the missing file last August.

KV Jagadish, superintendent of the vigilance wing, had submitted his findings on the file to the State Information Commissioner (SIC). The investigation report states that files or matters put forth before the board are documented in the BDA secretary’s office. Based on this, all files were scoured, and details of the file in question had been discussed twice — once in 2009 and then in 2010. It has also been found that the file had passed through several departments within the BDA, and yet had been untraceable.

“It has been found that documents pertaining to the said file had been placed before the board by engineer member section. The note put up before the board had a mention that the government, through its order dated from May 2009, had withdrawn 11.11 acres of land (bearing survey number 81) in Uttarahalli and 7.35 acres (survey no. 125) in Gottigere,” the vigilance wing report states.

The curious case had come to light during a hearing of an RTI appeal before the state information commission after the information asked was being denied for over three years.

Social activist Wg Cdr GB Athri (rtd) had sought information from BDA on the 11.11 acres of government land in survey number 81 in Uttarahalli, which had been marked for housing the poor under the Ashraya housing scheme. The BDA, calling it ‘unfit for housing’, had let it off and immediately after which, a private trust had applied for it. I bought the land at a throw-away price.

The land – that was worth at least Rs 50 crore in 2010 – had been given away for just Rs 3.94 crore that year, even as Karnataka Land Grant Rules barred granting lands within the BBMP limits.

Athri had sought all documents pertaining to the transaction. He had sought surveys and technical committee reports to justify BDA’s moves. As information had not been given, he had moved the information commission by filing for an appeal.

But the request was being dodged repeatedly. Even a penalty levied by the commission to an assistant commissioner and an additional commissioner hadn’t helped.

Suspecting something amiss, the SIC had ordered an investigation by the BDA vigilance wing to trace the file and report. Seeking action, SIC has posted matter to February 5.

“It seems like a deliberate effort. What kind of supervision does BDA have if such files can go missing? The BDA is a public authority and a body functioning under the statutes of the legislative assembly. If the document for land worth Rs 200 crore is missing, it’s a serious issue. Accountability has to be fixed and those responsible for this have to be punished… Vested interests could be stopping this disclosure because the land meant for the poor had ended up with a trust, which already has over 25 acres in various places in Bengaluru,” said Athri.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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