Sunday, November 27, 2005

Arkavathy verdict clears Gowda roadblock for BDA

Arkavathy verdict clears Gowda roadblock for BDA
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court division bench's verdict upholding the land acquisition by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for Arkavathy layout has come as a shot in the arm for SM Krishna supporters in the Congress and a slap in the face for JD (S) supremo HD Deve Gowda.

The ambitious Arkavathy lauout scheme, which proposed allotment of 20,000 house sites to the land-hungry people of the metropolis was the first target of the coalition government which replaced the Congress regime led by Krishna.

The new government, known to be dominated by the junior partner in the coalition and dictated to by Deve Gowda, though it was supposed to be "led" by Congress, cancelled the 'tendering process' for the formation of the layout under the Arkavathy project, alleging "irregularities" in it.

Obviously with Deve Gowda's blessings, some owners went to Court challenging the acquisition of 700 acres of land, which was to be a part of the 2750 acres notified for the project.

Cancellation of the tendering was done even as the coalition government booted out the high profile bureaucrat Jayakar Jerome, who headed the BDA as Commissioner.

He was shunted to a dummy post, which was created a day after he was posted to it, and made to sit in the Government secretariat building for some days without work and even staff.

Even the purblind could see it was a vindictive action against an upright officer who has been credited with reviving and invigorating the BDA.

Sent to wind up an organisation which had become the hotbed of corruption, Jerome had evolved foolproof allotment procedures, plugged revenue leakages and had enabled the BDA generate its own revenues to take up infrastructure projects without waiting for budgetary support.

Gowda's attack of Krishna, who moved on to become the Maharashtra Governor and the treatment meted out to Jerome smacked of political vendetta to the extant of obliterating whatever merits he may have had in his objection to the layout.

For the nearly 2.5 lakh aspirants who shelled out over Rs.900 crore as initial deposit for the plots - many of them borrowed it from financial institutions at 16 per cent interest - the cancellation of the Arkavathy layout came as a bolt from the blue.

Their hopes were further shattered by the single bench judgment of Justice Gopala Gowda, which not only endorsed cancellation of the project but also made strong comments against S M Krishna.

The language of the judgment described by the Division Bench as "intemperate", was such that the public viewed it as Deve Gowda's judgment and not that of Gopala Gowda.

The Division Bench, in a rare instance, also made observations against it's "Brother judge" saying "it is regrettable that the single judge has lightly passed adverse remarks of serious nature attacking the character, reputation and future career of a respected person (Krishna)".

It also noted that Krishna was not given a chance to defend himself. The Bench expunged the remarks against Krishna by the single judge, which it felt did not conform to "judicial norms of sobriety and moderation".

Sobriety and moderation are not known to be the virtues of Gowda who has been indulging in local politicking and threatening to pull down the government of which his own party is a partner.

Gowda, according to political observers has been doing this with future elections in view so that the government's failing could be laid at the doors of the Congress and credit for achievements claimed by his JD (S).

The Division bench judgment coming on the eve of the panchayat elections - which are regarded as a dress rehearsal for the next assembly elections, is certainly a blow to the strategy of Deve Gowda and he can be expected now to raise another bogey - like his attack on IT-BT sectors and Infosys mentor NR Narayana Murthy - to mitigate the verdict's adverse impacts.

The judgement has open the way for BDA to prove that it is serious in implementing the Arkavathy project.


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