Friday, November 30, 2007

Government land up for grabs

Government land up for grabs

Special Correspondent

Panel asks whether situation can be remedied

Bangalore: The final report of the Joint Legislature Committee on encroachment of government land in Bangalore Urban district states that 45,000 acres of land worth a whopping Rs. 50,000 crore even by conservative estimates has been grabbed.

On the list of 46,000 encroachers, submitted in seven volumes, are many rich and powerful people, including politicians, industrialists, builders, film personalities and heads of religious institutions.
Plea to Governor

Since the committee has been wound up with the dissolution of the Assembly, its Chairman, A.T. Ramaswamy, and members met Governor Rameshwar Thakur on Thursday and urged him to take steps to stop of the “loot of land and natural resources through encroachments and mining”.

They brought to the Governor’s notice that the Karnataka Prevention of Land Grabbing Act, 2007, had been awaiting the President’s assent for eight months. The Act provides for special courts to try land-grabbing cases.
Positive response

Speaking to presspersons here, Mr. Ramaswamy said the Governor had responded positively and promised to hold further discussions.

The Revenue Department heads the list of departments from which land has been encroached, with 33,877 acres. Other departments/agencies that have lost land (in acres) are Forest (2,223.33), Bangalore Development Authority (2,878), lakes/tanks/water bodies (1,848), Wakf (263.18), Cooperative (7.6), Animal Husbandry (53.26), Muzrai (61.0), Slum Clearance Board (12.19), Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (13.09), Bangalore University (13.19), Karnataka Housing Board (34), Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (10.25), Agriculture (3.19) and NIMHANS (3.26). Individual reports on each department have been submitted to the Speaker.
Even more

Mr. Ramaswamy underlined that the actual extent of land grabbing was higher than what had been detected. “This is also because of mischief and corruption at all levels, with public servants creating and abetting bogus records on the basis of which government lands are grabbed fearlessly by builders and others,” Mr. Ramaswamy has noted in his letter to the Governor.
‘Rot and corruption’

He has also expressed apprehensions that “the rot and corruption that has consumed the system” makes him “doubtful whether this alarming situation can be remedied at all”.

Of the total extent of encroachments detected, by the committee only a little over 8,000 acres of land had been recovered by the Revenue Department, said Mr. Ramaswamy.


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