How is it any different from a real estate agency: B.L. Shankar

Despite opposition from social activists as well as some members of the ruling party to the practice, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has once again advertised the auction of intermediate housing plots across the city.

BDA acquires land from farmers for distribution among the public at subsidised rates. Hence, the legality of auctioning plots by the State-run body has been a matter of debate for some time. But the latest announcement on Thursday has been a source of consternation because of the price at which the government agency wants to dispose the plots. The base price of the plots has been fixed between Rs. 6,500 and Rs. 8,500 per square feet.

“It is more than the guidance value fixed by the government,” RTI activist B.M. Shivakumar told mediapersons on Friday. Citing an example, he said that the base price of 12 plots in HSR Layout Sector Seven has been fixed at nearly Rs. 8,500 per square feet. “Post-bidding, the final sale price can go up to Rs. 10,000 per square feet,” Mr. Shivakumar said.

However, the guidance value fixed by the government is Rs. 4,000 per square feet.

Senior Congress leader B.L. Shankar, who has been campaigning against such auctions, said, “These lands were acquired from farmers for a public purpose. The function of BDA is to allot plots to people at subsidised rates. How can they auction them in the open market? If they do, what is the difference between the BDA and a real estate agency?”

Mr. Shivakumar said such auctions are illegal. Quoting from an April 24, 2009 order of a High Court division bench, he said, “…intermediary sites are required to be offered for allotment to eligible persons as per Rule-3. These intermediary sites cannot be disposed by public auction.” When confronted with this ruling, the BDA had issued a rejoinder stating that auction of intermediary plots was legitimised by a government order passed on July 27, 2011.

“But,” Mr. Shivakumar said, “The GO was never placed before the State cabinet for approval. It was issued by the Principal Secretary of the Urban Development Department.”

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