Saturday, September 23, 2006

State Congress squats on land meant for tourism conplex

State Congress squats on land meant for tourism conplex
Vijay Times
Some time in 2003, a politician made a passing remark that the Congress had grabbed a piece of lucrative real estate on Millers Road, barely a couple of furlongs from the Vidhana Soudha. The allegation went unheard and unnoticed because the Congress was in power.

Today, thanks to the Right to Information Act, the facts of the case are coming to light and none of it paints the Grand Ol’ Party in good light.

The land in question—all 19,420 sq ft of it and valued at Rs 5.66 crore three years ago—had been leased out to the Karnataka State Tourism D e v e l o p m e n t Corporation (KSTDC) for 99 years for the construction of a tourism promotion complex.

Somewhere, something happened and someone somewhere decided to gift away KSTDCs land to the Congress. And this after crores had been sanctioned for the tourism complex, and the foundation stone had been laid by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Documents show the then S M Krishna government exerting pressure on KSTDC to surrender the land, and leasing it out to its own party at a throwaway annual rent of Rs 12,000. Ironically, KSTDC pays several lakh rupees for its current office in Khanija Bhavan on Race Course Road.

Tourism Minister B Sriramulu confirms the transfer. "Yes, its true,” he told VVi ij ja ayy TTi imme ess . “I got wind of it in a recent meeting. I have asked for a clarification. I will take action after it comes.” The Tourism Complex was the brain-child of the late Chief Minister J H Patel. It was during his regime that the BMP leased out the property to KSTDC. Soon KSTDC got an okay for a five-storeyed complex. Both the State and Central governments sanctioned Rs 1 crore each. And another Rs 1 crore loan was taken from HUDCO.

Meanwhile, the elections came, Congress took over the reins of power, and the script changed. The land was leased out to the Congress vide a October 1, 2003 order, signed by the then under secretary of the urban development department.

In one letter, then Chief Commercial Manager (Tourism) Vijaydev writes: “Unfortunaely, this property may go out of our hands due to political party interference and pressure. We can only blame ourselves for it.” BBa an ng ga allo orree:: Did the previous Congress Government violate its own order in the case of the disputed land? So Through a Government Order (GO) dated June 2, 2003 NAE 129 TMD 2002), the S M Krishna government dire local bodies not to lease out any land without cal tender, and not to dispose of properties at less t cent of the market value. At the time of disposal, to ensure that the property is given for charity i However, on December 10, 2003 came the decision to out the BMP land to the Congress. The land belongs BMP (a local body) and Congress is not a charitabl tution. Above all, no tender was floated.


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