Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Will Government help NICE on BMIC? asks High Court

Will Government help NICE on BMIC? asks High Court

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday sought to know from the State Government whether it would cooperate with the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) in completing the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMICP) if NICE agreed not to ask for any additional land.

The court was dealing with a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by the All India Manufacturers’ Association (AIMO) seeking early completion of the expressway project linking Bangalore to Mysore.

While AIMO wanted the project to go on, NICE said it is handicapped as the Government was not parting with the land it had acquired for the project. It said the project was stalled as the Government had not come forward to hand over to it lands acquired for the project.

The NICE said it wanted 20,193 acres of land to complete the project. Though the Government had completed the acquisition proceedings, it had deliberately not handed over the land to NICE.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice S. Abdul Nazir then asked NICE why it had not backed out of the project if it felt that the State was stalling its implementation. NICE replied that it had raised loans to the tune of Rs. 900 crore for the project and, therefore, there was no question of backing out.

When Advocate-General Uday Holla said the demand for additional land was coming in the way of expeditious completion of the project, NICE said as of now there was no need for any additional land.

The AG said some of the lands acquired by the Government had already been handed over to NICE.

He said the Government had no faith in NICE as the company had sold lands handed over to it. He said the company now wanted lands from Bangalore to Mysore so that it could sell these lands and raise finance for the project.

When the AG said sale of land was prohibited as per the original framework agreement (FWA) signed between the State and NICE, the company said it could sell the lands and that this was one of the conditions in the FWA.

He said the State was hesitant about handing over acquired lands to NICE as the company had been alienating (selling or disposing) lands given to it for completing the project.

The AG also urged the court to defer further hearing on the case as the Supreme Court was seized of a similar matter pertaining to the project.

He said a contempt of court petition was also filed in the Supreme Court by NICE against the State Government and its officials. He said the Supreme Court was likely to deliver its verdict on July 30.

The Bench said it was inclined to accept the arguments of the AG and said it would be better if the case came up after the Supreme Court delivered its verdict.


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