‘Palike paying Rs. 61 cr. a month as interest on old loans’

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) council, has claimed that the palike was cash-strapped because the previous dispensations had taken loans from various banks. Besides the BJP has alleged that the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) had sold 153 BBMP properties when they were in power in the BBMP.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, BJP councillor N.R. Ramesh said 153 BBMP properties had been sold between 2001 and 2006. “It would take a large amount of money and a long legal battle to retrieve any of these properties. They are irretrievable. Our party only wants to mortgage BBMP properties so that they can still remain with the palike,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh and Ashwath Narayan Gowda, the ruling party leader, presented the case of Divyashree Chambers in Langford Town near the hockey stadium. “In 1993, an agreement was made between the palike and Shyamaraju and Company Pvt. Ltd. to construct a seven-storeyed commercial complex. After the completion of construction, it was decided to sell this property to the same company in 1995. Right after the last monthly meeting of the corporation that year, a special meeting was convened to discuss this issue. The land measuring over two acres worth Rs. 50 crore then was decided to be sold for just Rs. 1.2 crore. What the palike finally got was Rs. 48 lakh (as it had only 40 per cent ownership of the complex)”.

They said that the amount for which the property was sold was measly as the owner of the property is getting Rs. 29 lakh a month towards rent.“Twelve years after the decision to sell the property, both owners of the complex sold the property to another company called the Indus Entrepreneurs. The general power of attorney was given to an outsider (not a BBMP official). Today, this property is worth Rs. 300 crore. What is worse is our own Revenue Department kept us in the dark. It took us 18 months to retrieve these documents.”

Alleging that the then bureaucrats heading the BBMP had been involved in the sale of the property, the councillors demanded that a Lokayukta probe should be ordered, and a criminal case should be booked against them.

On the poor financial condition that the BBMP is in, Mr. Ramesh said the BBMP was paying Rs. 61 crore a month towards interest on loans that the previous dispensations had taken.

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