Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lake mortgaged to raise loan

Lake mortgaged to raise loan

Bangalore: Ever heard of a water body being mortgaged to raise a loan? If this sounds weird, the worse is yet to come. The loan is defaulted and the bank auctions the water body to raise the money. This is a tale of a lake encroached upon by an unscrupulous builder who fabricated documents of this 12-acre water body valued at Rs 200 crore and used it as a collateral to raise a loan. He filled up a portion of Byrasandra Lake in Uttarahalli with earth and rubble and got documents done in collusion with the authorities. However, the builder defaulted the loan and the bank recovered the property, put it up for auction and raised Rs 7 crore.
The encroachment escaped the government’s notice until the Lok Ayukta unearthed it. The scam was brought to the notice of Lok Ayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde who held a preliminary investigation. “There is a prima facie collusion and negligence on the part of the BBMP and forest department who turned a Nelson’s eye to the encroachment,’’ he said. Justice Hegde also initiated an investigation into the encroachment of Kempapura, Bellandur and Byrasandra lakes in Bangalore. It came to light when Upa Lok Ayukta Patri Basavana Goud ordered a suo motu investigation into the encroachment of 5 acres of Kempapura Tank near Airport Road and discovered that 4 acres of Bellandur lake too had been similarly encroached. The value of the encroachments of these water bodies has been estimated at Rs 500 crore.
The Lok Ayukta held a meeting of the deputy commissioner Bangalore Urban, chief engineer minor irrigation and other officers to take up this issue.


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