Tuesday, July 19, 2005

SC gives go ahead for BMIC

SC nod for BMIC project work
New Indian Express

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday gave the go-ahead for the work on the multi-crore four-lane Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project to continue, but said no land earmarked for the project could be alienated.

After hearing arguments for almost an hour, a Bench comprising Chief Justice R C Lahoti and Justice P K Balasubramanyan passed the order modifying the apex court's May 13 order.

Counsel for M/S Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Ltd Dushyant Dave told the Bench that the landowners had only challenged the acquisition procedures and that it had nothing to do with the project.

He also told the Bench that the total cost of the project was Rs 2,200 crore, but the State of Karnataka was not required to pay anything.

“Today not an inch of land has been made available to us as the land owners are challenging us. Equities are also being created,'' he said.

Goolam E Vahanvati, solicitor general, appearing for the State of Karnataka, argued that status quo should remain in force as far as the 2,450 acres around the peripheral road was concerned.

But Dave emphasised that Nandi did not want an inch of land in excess of the 20,103 acres agreed on earlier for the execution of the project. “The 2,500 acres is a magical figure being quoted by them. But they have not identified a single acre, which is in excess. It is merely a bogey,'' he averred.

Dave further told the Bench that the mortgage of the acquired land was perfectly valid as the agreement with the State Government permitted it. The Bench ordered the service in two months and posted the matter to the second week of November for further hearing.

Senior counsels Fali Nariman and Sanjay Hegde also represented the State of Karnataka.

The Supreme Court had earlier stayed the Karnataka High Court order pertaining to the controversial Rs 2250-crore project.On May 12, the apex court had stayed the prosecution of Karnataka chief secretary K K Misra and under secretary M Shivalinga Swamy as ordered by the state High Court which had held them guilty of perjury.

The two top bureaucrats averred that no notice or intimation was served to them that their statement of objections and affidavits were perceived to be false and that action was being proposed to be taken against them.

On May 13, the apex court stayed the Karnataka High Court judgment with regard to the project. The State then contended that the High Court had, in its May 3 order held that the entire Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project of over 20,000 acres has to be implemented as expeditiously as possible as per the original plan and schedule.

This despite the glaring fact that more than 2,450 acres of land acquired in the environs of Bangalore was found to be excess of the requirements for the proposed Mysore-Bangalore Expressway, the State felt.

The developer of the project M/S Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Ltd clearly had an intention to commercially exploit the land, the State submitted. Nandi has already sold 30 acres of land in Mandanayakanahalli and Madhavara in Bangalore North for over Rs 3 crore, the State contended.

When poor farmers whose lands were acquired held demonstrations, an assurance was given in the Assembly that a Review Committee would be constituted to investigate the matter.

The Review Committee was constituted in October 2004, and was subsequently renamed the Expert Committee. It said that of the 20,193 acres of land acquired, only 17,809 acres was required for the project.

It was then decided that the excess land would be commercially exploited in a manner, which had nothing to do with the purpose of the Expressway, the SLP averred.


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