With a new year comes a new scam and this time, it is a luxury township in Bengaluru which is allegedly involved in illegal construction, to which BBMP and BDA officials were instruments to.
The Bharatiya City township, located at Chokkanahalli in Yelahaka’s Batarayanapura has also been accused of negligence due to the death of two workers at the construction site
Replies to RTI applications filed by BJP leader NR Ramesh revealed that the township has been constructed on storm water drains and that the rain water is now being diverted into a narrow canal.
The BJP leader also alleged that Zigma Land Developers Pvt Ltd was a major shareholder in the company Bharatiya City Developers Ltd.
Encroachment of storm water drain
The Bharatiya City township has residential apartments, Elements Mall, a Multiplex, an IT-BT Tech park, a multi-specialty hospital, a four-star hotel, a convention centre and service apartments spread across 106.01 acres, according to the layout plan.
RTI documents reveal that the township has been constructed on 1,27,413 sqft of B Kharab government land, valued at Rs 125 crore. In this space a canal spread out across an area of 80,586 sqft and a road measuring 29,403 sqft were closed. Now buildings have come up on this government land.
“The market value of the canal is Rs 80 crore and that of the area where the road was situated is Rs 30 crore. The officials have not recorded any of these discrepancies. The total cost of the illegally acquired land is around Rs 250 crore,” Ramesh alleged.
Also, for the construction of this project, another storm water drain, which is a buffer zone for the Nagavara and Raachenahalli Lakes, was allegedly acquired and closed down.
“The rain water, which used to flow into this secondary drain, has now been diverted into a narrow gutter,” Ramesh pointed out.
A letter dated September 30, 2011 was issued to the BBMP by the developers stating that this land would not be used for construction purposes.
Non-payment of betterment charges
The information obtained through another RTI application filed by the BJP leader revealed that Zigma Land Developers had to pay Rs 17.17 crore in betterment charges. The company, however, had paid a sum of Rs 4.29 crore and the remaining Rs 12,88 crore was to be paid by March 2012 in instalments. The remaining amount has allegedly still not been paid.
“An investigation conducted by a special investigation officer and officials from the Bengaluru Metropolitan Task Force declared that there was a procedural lapse when Zigma obtained the A Katha. The Joint Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Revenue Officer and the Assistant Revenue Officer were issued a show cause notice. A Revenue Officer named Giriappa, was later suspended,” Ramesh alleged.
Non-payment of penalty for illegal land acquisition
According to land records provided by Ramesh, the BBMP had issued a notice to Zigma on March 31, 2012, asking it to pay a penalty of Rs 19.32 crore for the illegal land acquisition.
Zigmal then transferred the katha to Bharatiya City Developers, the company’s sister concern on June 4, 2012. The Palike sent another notice to Bharatiya City Developers on October 18, 2012 for payment of the penalty.
Falsified Amalgamation katha
The data further revealed that the revenue officials had illegally issued katha amalgamation certificate to the Bharatiya City project.
“Amalgamation katha cannot be issued if the survey numbers are not continuous. The officials sanctioned the katha despite knowing that survey numbers 33, 34 and 36 did not belong to Bharatiya City Developers,” Ramesh argued.
No investigation into death of two workers
Another issue that has been pushed under the rug, according to Ramesh, is the investigation into the deaths of two workers during the construction of block 6 and 7 of Bharatiya city. They were killed while laying the foundation for the Bharatiya City project on August 8, 2016.
According to the FIR filed on August 9, 2016, at the Kottanuru Police Station, foundation was being laid for Block 6 and 7 of the project when the two workers were killed.
“The Additional Joint Commissioner filed the FIR against G Raghavan, the Chief Executive Director of Bharatiya City Developers Ltd for negligence,” Ramesh claimed.
Ramesh said that he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the concerned BBMP and BDA authorities to take action against the developers.
“I have submitted over 4,000 pages of evidence which proves the scam. I have also sent these documents to the Supreme Court,” Ramesh said.
Note: An earlier version of this article had stated that BJP leader Ramesh had alleged that Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra was a majority shareholder in Zigma Land Developers. Mr Vadra's lawyers have told TNM that he has no shares in Zigma Land Developers and he has no knowledge of the company.We have retracted the portion and regret not applying due diligence.