Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Congress smells scandal in EWS deal

Congress smells scandal in EWS deal

Special Correspondent

B.L. Shankar demands Lokayukta probe into the contract

State Government gave the nod to a private firm to re-build EWS quarters under PPP model

The deal allows the developer 50 per cent

of the commercially exploited land

B.L. Shankar

BANGALORE: The Congress sees the involvement of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa in a multi-crore joint venture scandal in the development of prime Government land in Bangalore.

The State Cabinet had recently approved a joint development venture of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike to build housing quarters for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of people at Ejipura, in association with a private firm.

Addressing presspersons here, Congress leader B.L. Shankar, who has demanded a probe by the Karnataka Lokayukta into the agreement, said the State Government gave a formal nod allowing Maverick Holdings and Investments to re-build the EWS quarters under the Public Private Partnership model on a built-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis. The proposal is to build flats for the residents on seven of the 14 acres of land and the rest of the land is to be used for commercial purposes, jointly by the BBMP and the developer.

According to the deal, the developer would get 50 per cent of the commercially exploited land.

Mr. Shankar, who is a former chairman of the Legislative Council, alleged that the owner of Maverick Holdings and Investments had violated all norms while constructing Garuda Mall.

He alleged that Uday Garudachar, proprietor of the mall, plans to develop a commercial complex on the 14 acres of land meant for the EWS quarters, and that was why he had decided to construct the quarters.

Mr. Garudachar had been keen to contest the last Assembly elections, but the party denied him ticket at the last minute, the Congress leader said.

Garuda Mall was built on prime property once owned by the Government. All the BBMP now earns out of the project is a meagre parking fee, while the mall owners get hefty rents.

The land, on which the mall has been constructed, was earlier used for parking BBMP ambulances and hearse vans and also served as an automobile workshop of the BBMP.

Mr. Shankar urged the Government to scrap the order issued to the private firm for developing the quarters and said only a probe by the Lokayukta would reveal the involvement of money in clearing the project and favours done to the private firm by the Yeddyurappa Government.

Besides recovering the Garuda Mall property, the Government must take legal action against the owner of the mall for violating building norms, he said.
On transparency

Mr. Shankar said that the Chief Minister had recently announced in Chitradurga that the Government had maintained transparency while granting approval to projects and any one could access the files. To justify his claim, Mr. Yeddyurappa should show all files pertained to the awarding of the contract to Maverick Holdings and Investments, to the leaders of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and the Council, he said.

He accused the Government of looting public money by making appointments such as legal adviser to the Chief Minister and Chairman of the Coastal Development Authority. In fact, several parts of the coastal districts come under the jurisdiction of the Malnad Development Board, he said.

The Chief Minister had announced several schemes for the development of north Karnataka region but most of them remained only on paper, he said.

Senior officials should be posted to Gulbarga for expediting implementation of programmes, he said.

At least one Additional Chief Secretary should be posted to the Gulbarga division to monitor works, he added.


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