Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Road to nowhere?

Road to nowhere?
It has virtually been a roller-coaster ride for the 111-km Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) in the past 12 years. Four governments have presided over its fate. The promoters have sought relief from the Supreme Court and high courts. But it continues to hit roadblocks, caught in the ego clashes of the powers-that-be. The latest threat is the government toying with the idea of dumping its present executors, Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises, and giving the project to a US-based consortium. TOI tracks the ups and downs of the BMIC over the years

SC hearing put off Bangalore: The contempt petition against the Karnataka government filed by Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project promoter NICE, scheduled to come up in the Supreme Court on Monday, was put off.
The case could not be taken up as one of the judges was absent. BMIC promoter Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises has filed a contempt case against the government for not providing them the required land, despite the apex court giving the green signal to proceed with the project.
The case has taken an interesting turn with the Karnataka government filing an affidavit in the court on July 28, stating it was considering offering the project’s implementation to a US-based consortium. According to the government’s admission in the affidavit, the Global Infrastructure Consortium has come up with a good package with no cost to the former. GIC gave fake address: Kheny
Bangalore: Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) promoter Ashok Kheny decided to file a petition before the US commerce department, asking it to frame charges against the US-based Global Infrastructure Consortium (GIC) for providing a fake address of its set-up in Bangalore.
The GIC, consisting of five companies, recently proposed to the state government that it was willing to take over BMIC from Kheny’s Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE).
On the assurances from the consortium, the government filed an additional affidavit in the Supreme Court favouring completion of works by GIC.
The office address provided by the GIC appears to be rather unconvincing. The project offer letter written by GIC to the government on July 6, gives the address as #100, 4th Cross, 4th Block, Koramangala, Bengaluru-560034. When TOI called up the numbers given in the GIC’s letterhead, it found that a different company under the name Ashford Private Ltd was operating out of that address. The building owner also denied that GIC was functioning from this address.
There was no reply from Nikhil Gandhi’s office (director of Mumbai-based SKIL Infrastructure Limited, one of the partner in this consortium) when asked to comment on the fake address.
A NICE representative maintained that GIC is not at all a registered company and questioned the government’s credibility in filing the additional affidavit in SC favouring GIC.
1995: Project proposed by NICE Limited 1998: Preliminary notification for land along highway and first township July 2000: Public hearings in Bangalore, Mysore and Mandya Aug 2001: Environment clearance Aug 2001: Toll-franchise agreement
Four expressways 41 km — links National Highways 7 and 4 111 km — links Bangalore and Mysore 9 km links expressway to state highway 17 3 km — elevated expressway connects Link Road to downtown Bangalore Five townships: Each has schools, hospitals, parks and recreation facilities, water and power supplies and telecommunication links and sewage treatment facilities Corporate centre: Separate centre for corporate headquarters and R&D facilities Commercial centre: Home for retail light industry and municipal support services Industrial centre: Focal point for durable goods, industrial research and development Heritage centre: A lake surrounded by buildings which house arts, crafts, traditional healing facilities, etc. Eco-tourism centre: Environmental attractions
March 24, 2005: K C Reddy committee submits report to Karnataka High Court
NICE requires only 17,809 acres against the company’s demand of 20,193 acres
The figure of 20,193 acres quoted by NICE is an annexure to the agreement, which is not signed by anyone and looks like it was added on later
Committee cleared land sought for all townships but the bone of contention was land required for the peripheral and link road, interchanges and the service road around Bangalore
March 27, 2005: Deve Gowda’s defence of his opposition to BMIC
“I have no selfish ends to achieve, I am opposed to misappropriation of government and private land.’’
“BMIC project was approved in 1985, not during my chiefministership.’’
“I did not sign an MoU with NICE on February 22, 1995; an MoU was signed with a consortium of three foreign companies, NICE is not party to it or a lawful inheritor of the rights of that consortium.’’
“NICE is not keen to implement the project beyond Bidadi. Earthwork is going on only near Bangalore.’’
“Total land as per government order on November 20, 1995 for the project — 18,313.37 acres; revised on April 3, 1997 in FWA when C R Ramesh was PWD secretary — 20,193 (excess 1,880 acres); revised in KIADB-NICE agreement on October 14, 1998 when M K Shankarlinge Gowda was KIADB CEO — 23,846 acres (excess 5,533 acres); land notified by KIADB as per letter on May 22, 2004, when Anees Siraj was special DC — 29,258 acres (excess 10,945 acres).’’
MAY 3, 2005
Execute BMIC project as originally conceived and upheld by HC in Somashekhar Reddy case order of August 21, 1998
Implement FWA signed by Karnataka and NICE on April 3, 1997 in letter and spirit.
Govt orders dated November 4, 2004 and December 17, 2004 constituting K C Reddy Committee to review and act as expert panel for BMIC project quashed
All orders of K C Reddy Committee quashed
NICE to implement BMIC project as expeditiously as possible
Prosecution of then chief secretary K K Misra, under secretary industries and commerce department M Shivalingaswamy for perjury.
Misra’s plea that state government was defrauded by NICE and the former’s suppression of documents described as unfortunate.
State raised fraud bogie to defeat public project and subserve public interest
MAY 11, 2005
Sought an interim, exparte stay of the HC judgment.
The SLP focused on two issues: NICE wants land around Bangalore purely for real estate; the MoU Karnataka signed with a foreign consortium in 1995 did not provide for assignment of the project to anyone else, including NICE, so such an act is illegal.
MAY 13, 2005
SC stayed the entire HC judgment, admitted Karnataka’s SLP.
It directed NICE to expedite the project’s completion and asked the state government to honour the 1997 FWA.
Quashed the state government’s order constituting an expert committee and a review committee to reappraise the project, ordering prosecution of then chief secretary K K Misra and commerce and industries under secretary M Shivalingaswamy for perjury.
APRIL 20, 2006
SC orders BMIC to go ahead with the project.
Directs Karnataka to pay NICE Rs 5 lakh for filing a “frivolous litigation’’. Also said the mega project was in the larger public interest and the only ground for its review appeared to be the change of government in 2004.
Court said MLAs J C Madhuswamy and G V Sriramareddy — used as pawns for filing PILs — against the project before the Hight Court and then in SC — were asked to pay a cost of Rs 50,000 by the Bench. This amount will be in addition to the similar amount imposed as cost on them by the HC. QUOTE HANGER

“He has been able to garner enormous sympathy and successfully diverted attention of all concerned away from his sinister game plan to acquire nearly 5,000 acres of prime land around Bangalore.’’ H D Deve Gowda | (FORMER PM) ON NICE PROMOTER ASHOK KHENY

“If 2,450 acres are excess in this, are we supposed to build the road on eight acres? There are no poor farmers there, only land mafia. Hundreds are grabbing land and making profits without investing a rupee in the state. We are investing our money without any government guarantee and have not earned a single rupee from it so far.’’ Ashok Kheny | NICE PROMOTER

“If NICE seriously wants to take road works, we are willing to discuss it. I also want the road to take off. But disinformation is being spread that I have some hatred towards the project. This has to stop. For a road worth Rs 1,000 crore maximum, they, a Rs 70 company, want to grab land worth Rs 50,000 crore. H D Kumaraswamy | CHIEF MINISTER

“My prime concern is that the BMIC should happen and it should happen within the framework of law. If I, my brother, my father or any of my family members own any land which is part of the
2,451 acres of excess land, we will give it away to whoever wants it without taking a paisa.’’ H D Revanna | MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS AND POWER

“A new law will be brought in to ensure “excess’’ land is not given to the promoter. We are not willing to give excess land. We are bringing a law to this effect. But we are not against the project itself.’’ B S Yediyurappa | DEPUTY CM
Yediyurappa (legislative assembly, opposition leader- August 6, 2004): Alleged irregularities in the BMIC project. Wanted the Congress-JD(S) government to either set up a special court or order a judicial inquiry.


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