Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saleable land figure inflated in BMIC project

Saleable land figure inflated in BMIC project

Krishnaprasad
RTI documents disclose how Cabinet notes were subsequently modified
BANGALORE: Documents made available to The Hindu under the Right to Information Act (RTI) reveal how officials in the State administrative hierarchy altered a decision of the Cabinet in 2000 with respect to land for the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project.

While the State Cabinet granted exemption from stamp duty for 5,850 acres of acquired land, the exempted area was inflated more than two-and-a-half times in the notifications issued subsequently.

What is worse is that subsequently the State Government itself considered the altered versions as the base for its future decisions on the project.

Stamp duty
The Cabinet — the highest decision-making body of the State administration — on November 20, 2000 had ordered that Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE), which is executing the BMIC project, be exempted from paying Rs. 56 crore as stamp duty when the Government sells to the company 5,850 acres of acquired land, situated in the five proposed townships between Bangalore and Mysore as part of the project. However, the then Deputy Secretary of the Revenue Department on January 4, 2001 changed this figure to 14,337 acres of land (including both government and private lands) as approved by the Cabinet. Interestingly, the Deputy Secretary had stated that the amount of stamp duty exemption remains at Rs. 56 crore even after enhancement of land to 14,337 acres of land.

The Deputy Secretary altered the Cabinet decision by making the following noting in the file:

“In Para 63 of the Cabinet Note it is indicated that 5,850 acres of land is available for sale. But according to the information supplied by the NICE and supported by the Public Works Department (PWD) it is 14,337 acres.”

The note further states: “The KIADB is acquiring 14,337 acres of land and will hand it over to NICE for implementation of the project on which the Government has to accord exemption of stamp duty to the extent of Rs. 56 crore. Therefore, to this extent, Para 63 of the Cabinet Note stands modified. Since the payment of stamp duty to the extent of Rs. 56 crore accorded by the Cabinet remains unaltered, only the extent of land is changed, we may therefore issue Government Orders accordingly.”

This noting, okayed by a few higher officials, paved the way for the Government Order dated January 24, 2001, through which 100 per cent stamp duty exemption was granted for selling 14,337 acres of land to NICE. This Government Order acted as government approval to selling 14,337 acres of land instead of the 5,850 fixed by the Cabinet as per the Framework Agreement (FWA).

Also, this order was issued without indicating that the sale of land is permissible only in townships as per the FWA and as approved by the Cabinet. As per the FWA, except 5,850 acres of land which the NICE was permitted to sell after purchasing from the Government, the remaining land was to be given to the NICE by way of lease deed.

Based on this Government Order, the Stamps and Registration Department allowed registration of sale deeds in favour of NICE for land other than what was notified for the townships, particularly land situated within Bangalore city as the Government Order did not give specifications.

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