Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SC seeks progress report on BMIC work

SC seeks progress report on BMIC work
Pratap Patnaik New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Karnataka government to file a status report within six weeks on the progress made on the controversial multi-crore Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project (BMIC).

A bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee, R M Lodha and Deepak Varma said the matter would be heard after eight weeks after the State Government and the company filed their respective status report and reply within two weeks. The matter came up before the bench as part of a contempt notice issued on March 25, 2008 against top state bureaucrats for not abiding by the court’s order in implementing the project.

Appearing for the State Government, Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati and Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli submitted that the project work was being carried out in accordance with the High Court’s order in the Somshekhar Reddy case and the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the authorities with the project contractor, Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE).

The bench asked the State Government to file a status report stating the facts relating to the land to be allotted, land already allotted to the contractor, the outline of alignment and the stages in which the work was being executed. Harnahalli said the government had objections to NICE’s proposal on handing over more land to it around Bangalore for commercial purposes. “The company has demanded more land around Bangalore,’’ Harnahalli said to a question by the bench on why there was a delay in executing the project.

He, however, said that the time-frame for completing the project could be cut down as it would be in public interest.

NICE’s advocate Dushyant Dave contented that his clients had already spent Rs 2,000 crore but the government had failed to hand over the required land to them.
State PWD principal secretary R B Agawane said in an affidavit that contempt proceedings against the government should be withdrawn as it is “committed to implementing the project in accordance with the framework agreement and the outline development plan dated February 12, 2004.’’

In accordance with the apex court order, a high level committee headed by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, and comprising 17 secretary-level officers, was constituted to supervise execution of the project.
In another affidavit, A Rudragoud of NICE said: “Agitation by Janata Dal (S) workers is seriously affecting progress of the project”.

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for U R Ananathamurthy, submitted that his plea should be heard, otherwise the petition filed by him would be infructuous as a basic objection to the execution of the project had been raised. Bhushan said the project contractor has been taking away more land than was proposed in the original MoU.
Countering these arguments Dave said: “In the garb of public interest, hired people had been accumulated to stage a sit-in on the highway to stall work.’’


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