news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | January 16, 2015 | 12.22 pm IST It has become tradition almost, for every government in the last few years, to face allegations of illegal land de-notification in Karnataka. It is Siddaramaiah’s turn now, carrying the torch forward from B S Yeddyurappa. In what could well be Siddaramaiah’s undoing, he faces allegations of de-notifying land in Arkavathy layout, which had been proposed a good three years before he crossed over to the Congress from the Janata Dal (Secular). Matters have to come to such a state that Siddaramaiah has even Congress chief Sonia Gandhi over his alleged involvement in the illegal denotification scam. The then Congress government under S M Krishna proposed the Arkavathi layout carved out of land acquired from 16 villages near Yelahanka, in which the BDA would provide 22,000 housing sites.  The preliminary land acquisition notice was issued in 2003 for 3,839 acres. But this was reduced to 1,089 acres after land owners sought relief from the courts. Hence the final notification in 2003 only covered 2,750 acres of land from these villages, and the BDA planned 11,000 sites. Fast forward to the present Siddaramaiah has been accused of denotifying 541 acres of land in violation of the Karnataka High Court’s directions. Although the JD (S) has also joined the BJP’s demand for Siddaramaiah’s resignation, the BJP has turned the Arkavathi Layout de-notification into a sustained campaign. Former law minister in the BJP government S Suresh Kumar and BJP leader V Somanna have been tasked with preparing a report on the subject. Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar claimed that Siddaramaiah had given the green signal for issuing denotification letter dated June 18, 2014, despite knowing that it was in violation of the High Court’s guidelines on de-notification. Shettar reiterated his allegation of Siddaramaiah denotifying 541 acres. He also alleged that the Congress government had denotified 983 acres of land meant for the layout from 2003 onwards for monetary considerations.  M Vinod Kumar, the State BJP legal cell convener and advocate, said: “The word used by the government on record to denotify the 820 acres is ‘redoing’. It is nothing but denotification. Public land can be denotified only for six specific purposes.” Siddaramaiah’s defence Siddaramaiah has maintained that he did not violate the directions of the High Court. He also accused Shettar of denotifying the 541 acres on February 12, 2013, during the latter’s brief tenure as chief minister, before elections to the assembly could be announced.  However, giving in to pressure, the Siddaramaiah has ordered an inquiry by a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court,, who will investigate all transactions from the time the preliminary notification was issued in 2003 to acquire 3,839.12 acres of land till the revised modification scheme of 1,766.07 acres was submitted to the high court in 2014.  Rewind  Siddaramaiah is not the only one to have denotified land in this layout. However, it appears he is the only one accused of doing it illegally. Kumaraswamy had denotified 78 acres 28 guntas in between February 2006 to October 2007.  Yeddyurappa denotified 72 acres 12 guntas of land from May 2008 to July 2011.  During the Governor's rule after theJDS-BJP coalition government collapsed, around 46 acres of land was denotified from November 2007 to May 2008.  D V Sadananda Gowda’s share of the denotification pie is relatively minuscule: 25 guntas, during his 11-month tenure. Fun facts  Depite the controversy raging around the layout, 137 Central and State government officials, including IAS and IPS officers, who have been given sites in the layout, remain unperturbed. These officials, who own plots in the Metropolitan Co-operative Housing Society (MCHS) layout within Arkavathy Layout, are sitting pretty, as the MCHS is like a private layout within the Arkavathy layout.  What now? A one-man commission of inquiry headed by retired high court judge HS Kempanna will investigate the entire Arkavathy Layout denotification katha, since February 2004 when the BDA issued the final land notification for 2,750 acres spread across 16 villages, till April 2014, when the present Congress government gazetted the final notification for the remodified scheme.  In January BJP leaders met Governor to seek permission to prosecute Siddaramaiah. They have chartered out a legal battle and have explored other options as well. Over 8,800 allottees are yet to get sites in the Arkavathy Layout even though it has now been over a decade since the plan was first mooted. Tweet

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