13.11-acre land in Konaje is being pitched as additional dumpsite for MCC

What was supposed to cater to the housing needs in the fastest growing II tier city, may now, instead, house the refuse of its residents.

In what many have called the consequence of bad planning, Mangalore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) is now looking to offload their stagnating 13.11-acre Konaje plots by packaging it as a dumpsite for the Mangalore City Corporation.

In February 2007, the Authority spent around Rs. 2.88 crore to acquire the land. Combined with 14.70 acres of government land adjoining this, MUDA had hoped for the layout to be among its bigger residential projects.

However, two auctions – one in November 2009 and the other in August 2012 – proved the contrary. In both cases, only one bidder bid at a rate that was lower than the base value. The auctions were cancelled.

Survey done after purchase

A reason for the lack of interest is that the terrain is hilly, uneven with steep inclines, said Mangalore South MLA J.R. Lobo, who had brought this issue up during a recent MUDA review meeting. “How can they buy land without finding out whether people want the land? People will have to spend a lot to level the land before constructing a house. This is bad planning and a bad investment,” he told The Hindu.

Officials admit a demand survey was conducted only after the purchase of land. “MUDA had hoped that the demand would increase in 2009-10 as the city grew rapidly. The prediction didn’t come true, and the land is unproductive,” said an official at the town planning section of MUDA.

Insisting that the dumpsite proposal is only in the discussion stage, Renuka Prasad, MUDA Commissioner, said: “There are no legal hurdles in proposing a dumpsite in the place of a residential layout. We will take it up at the meeting of the Authority.” He ambiguously added that the meeting would be held “either before or after the State budget”.

The other, lesser preferred ideas were to keep idle in case the government wants to develop an Information Technology park there. MUDA’s sales pitch for the dumpsite proposal is that in the eventuality of the formation of Greater Mangalore, that will encompass Ullal and Thokottu, the Konaje site may supplement the sole existing dumping site at Vamanjoor.

However, Mr. Lobo isn’t convinced. “There are environmental issues that need to be taken care of. A demarcating line should be put, and it should be seen that it will not affect residents nearby. MUDA’s primary responsibility is to come up with residential schemes, and not create dumping sites,” he said.

It is still a long journey for MUDA to shake off the burden that weighs on their exchequer. “After formal approval, it will be sent to the MCC. If they agree, a technical report is conducted and the costs of the sale are chalked out,” said an official, adding that the process could take years.

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