Aspiring businessmen could take a lesson or two from our politicians who seem to have a way of finding new avenues for money-making – ethics aside, of course. An RTI activist recently brought to light how an MLC managed to bag a prime G-category site for a huge subsidy and then – flouting rules – sold it for commercial use for a massive profit within 15 months.
Marithibbe Gowda, who is also deputy chairman of the Karnataka Legislative Council, allegedly got the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to allot him a site in HRBR Layout for a price of Rs 5 lakh in 2014. By next year, he had sold this 2,400 sq ft plot for Rs 1.76 crore – for more than 35 times the price he paid (on record).
Unfortunately for him, the matter is now before the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). G-category sites are allotted on government’s discretion with the sole purpose of building a house. The beneficiary also has to give an affidavit saying (s)he doesn’t have any other plot in Bengaluru. The site cannot be sold or used for commercial purposes. In this case, Gowda had not only sold the plot for profit, but the new owner was already building a commercial complex on it.
RTI activist and president of Anti-Corruption Wing R Ramesh managed to get all documents under the Right to Information, which clearly proved that the MLC had bought the site at a heavily subsidised rate and then sold it for profit. (Media has a copy of these documents.) “In 2004-05, Gowda approached the government for a G-category plot, claiming he didn’t have a house in Bengaluru. He managed to find a plot in the posh HSR Layout (site no 1965) in December 2004. Due to legal issues, he couldn’t get it.
In November 2008, he found a prime plot (site no 4C-604) in HRBR Layout, II Block, and got it allotted to him for just Rs 5.15 lakh,” Ramesh told BM.
The MLC had allegedly again run into legal hurdles. He sought a different site again, said Ramesh. “He wrote to the BDA Commissioner in March 2014, requesting for an alternative site in HRBR Layout, Ist Block (Site no 10 M-229), which he himself had identified.
Even the BDA officials are part of this scam for allotting him this plot again in May 2014. To give him this site, many rules were flouted,” said Ramesh, adding that Gowda got this alternative site from the BDA for the same price. Soon enough, he sold this plot to one Rampal Sharma, a resident of Kammanahalli, for a price of Rs 1.76 crore on paper. “Imagine the black money he would have got for it. Sources told me this site sold for a minimum of Rs 3.5 crore,” said Ramesh.
Ramesh has lodged a complaint with the ACB and also with the BDA commissioner.
When Mirror got in touch with Gowda to ask him about the allegations, here’s what he had to say: “Yes, I have sold it for market price and I haven’t done anything wrong. Who says I can’t sell it? I know about the complaint and I have also received a notice about this. I will answer this. I have been an elected representative three times and I don’t have a house of my own in Bengaluru or in Mysuru. I had many problems and to settle that I had to sell the site. Now, after selling this, I have constructed a house of my own in my hometown Malavalli.”
“I was given three sites since 2004 and all three had legal issues. I agree that I paid Rs 5 lakh-plus to buy the site, and that was paid years ago. Now, the market value of this site is high and I haven’t done anything wrong. I have everything on record,” said the MLC.
Credits Bangalore Mirror