The panel was expected to submit its report by August 20

It’s been a month since a high-level committee was formed to probe allegations of irregularities in land acquired by Mangalore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) for Chelyar Layout. It is operational only on paper.

The grandiose plan of MUDA to form a layout and distribute sites to applicants at Chelyar and Madya villages near Surathkal comes at a cost: Rs. 75,000 monthly outgo to service a Rs. 12 crore loan taken for it.

In an order sent by the Urban Development Department, on August 5, a committee was to deliver a report on the legality of the project within 15 days. The committee is headed by Regional Commissioner (Mysore) M.V. Jayanthi, with Deputy Commissioner N. Prakash and Deputy Director of Land Records B.K. Kusumadhara as members.

After allegations that the price paid for the land in 2008 was too high and favourable to private players, Minister for Urban Development Vinay Kumar Sorake promised a probe in June.

The project envisaged buying 200 acres of private land at an agreed rate of Rs. 25,500 a cent. After the approval of the erstwhile BJP-led government, nearly 73 acres of land had been bought.

‘Unscientific project’

While most MUDA officials who talked to The Hindu claimed to have been transferred to the Authority only after site formation, one senior official said: “The entire project was approved by the State government. And so, in this respect, the papers are clean. However, there is a need to ask why the ambitious layout was formed when the Authority was reeling under debt.” Already burdened with a Rs. 4 crore loan, in 2008, MUDA took an additional Rs. 12 crore.

Many officials view the inquiry as a political witch-hunt: aimed at the now-out-of-power party, rather than the Authority itself.

‘Report soon’

With not one meeting called so far, Mr. Kusumadhara said there was little clarity on the scope of inquiry.

However, the Deputy Commissioner said, “We only have to clear the suspicions. We will collect the required documents, and present it before the Regional Commissioner during her visit on September 12.”

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