BENGALURU: Caste groups in Karnataka traditionally mobilized around getting quotas in educational institutions and government jobs. Now, they have a new demand land allotment in Bengaluru. The capital’s skyrocketing realty prices have made many caste sub-groups covet prime land parcels.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah’s Ahinda strategy to aggregate political support by thinly slicing backward classes may come back to haunt him. So far, 42 caste groups have submitted applications seeking land in the tech capital for construction of Bhavans (community centres) for their members. The demand, which comes at a time when government land holding in Bengaluru is shrinking, has put the CM in a tight spot. If the land is allotted, it would cost around Rs 300 crore-Rs 350 crore to the state exchequer as the lease amount to be collected from these caste associations will be a nominal sum. If land is not allotted, the CM would end up facing the wrath of the deprived caste groups.
A bureaucrat told TOI: “Earlier, sites used to be sought from the government by prominent individuals and religious organizations.But castes and sub-castes demanding land in Bengaluru is a new trend.“
Acknowledging the demand from caste groups for land, revenue minister Kagodu Thimmappa said the government has forwarded the same to the Bengaluru Urban district administration. Though the district authorities put the issue on the back burner terming them `general requests’, sources said they had to act following pressure from various quarters. In fact, the authorities have zeroed in on Survey No. 81 at Machohalli village in Dasanapura hobli of Bengaluru North taluk to grant land to 24 caste groups.
Thimmappa said: “The process of identifying land for the remaining 18 groups is under way .“
With the district administration clearing encroachments recently and reclaiming government property, the caste groups are mounting more pressure on the chief minister’s office and the revenue authorities to expedite the allotment. The bureaucrat added: “It is a tough task on hand. How do we identify which sub-caste is politically powerful and which is not?
We have got over ten applications from different sub-castes in the weavers’ community itself. How do we take it forward? The idea of pampering caste groups is turning out to be a headache for all.“
The size of land to be allotted is also turning out to be a contentious issue.
A Congress legislator pointed out: “While the average size is around 1.2 acres, the authorities have decided to give 5 acres each to Karnataka State Kurubara Sangha and Sri Kaginele Maha Samsthana Kanaka Gurupeeta.“ The chief minister belongs to the Kuruba community.
Sources said the decision to grant land is likely to be made when the countdown begins for the 2018 assembly polls.
Credits ET Realty