Monday, September 18, 2006

Karnataka Government records relating to BMIC `manipulated'

Karnataka Government records relating to BMIC `manipulated'

The Hindu

Reply to show-cause notice submitted to Supreme Court

BANGALORE: The records of the Government pertaining to the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project being implemented by the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) have been "manipulated" to enable the company to acquire land worth Rs. 30,000 crore.

This is one of the serious allegations levelled by the Government in its reply to a show-cause notice served by the Supreme Court on a writ petition filed by NICE challenging the institution of a commission of inquiry (headed by former Chief Justice, B.C. Patel) into the BMIC project. The reply was submitted to the court two days ago.

The Government has said that it has only appointed a fact-finding commission and that the findings of the commission are not binding on the parties concerned.

The reply seeks to drive home the point that the attempt of NICE in filing a writ petition is to "smother and scuttle any inquiry into wrong doings relating to the project and to prevent the facts getting any exposure." Interestingly, the managing director of NICE, Ashok Kheny, had initially welcomed the Government's decision to order a judicial probe into the infrastructure corridor project, the reply has noted. According to the Government's reply, the agreement between the Government and NICE entered into on October 14, 1998 for acquisition of private land (for the project) was on the basis that the entire 7,000 acres of land for the toll road would revert to the Government at the end of the lease period. Subsequently "the then Public Works Department Secretary seems to have introduced a note in the Government files thereby enabling the petitioners to have ownership of land aggregating to 22,897 acres of land which, as on date, is worth over Rs. 30,000 crore."

It said, while the requirement of private land under the project was only 13,237 acres, subsequent agreements enabled the company to obtain 31,032 acres of land. Further, while government land was required to be purchased by the company at a price to be fixed by the Government as per rules, a subsequent order was passed in 1999 specifying that the Government would provide the land to NICE at a "ridiculously low rental of Rs. 10 an acre of land per annum for 40 years. Similarly, an agreement was entered into between the Government and NICE in August 2002 wherein the right of sale of land, including that at 10 interchanges, was conferred on NICE contrary to the (original) frame work agreement."


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