Site allottees living in the area face uncertain future
In a move that has left even their counterparts at the BBMP aghast, the Bangalore Development Authority has denotified 2.22 acres of prime land it acquired over 20 years ago and developed into the posh Jnanabharati Layout. The land, which was handed over by the BDA to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike in 2002, is now valued at over Rs. 40 crore.
“We discovered that the land has been denotified only on August 8 when panicked local residents came to us for help,” said BBMP Chief Engineer N.B. Srinivas.
Vinayak, an area resident, said that one Munikrishnappa, who became the owner of the land after denotification, showed up at the site on the morning of August 8 with bulldozers in tow. His earthmoving machinery soon proceeded to tear apart the roads, drains and electricity poles. He also allegedly threatened those who had built houses on the land and asked them to vacate at the earliest.
Left with no option, stunned BBMP officials filed a police complaint against Munikrishnappa on Thursday, charging him with encroaching upon government land and destroying government property such as roads and public utilities. “They have completely destroyed the main road that connects the layout to the outside world,” said Mr. Vinayak.
“The denotification of a fully developed layout has never happened,” said a BBMP official, who did not wish to be quoted. Mr. Srinivas said that the BDA has not even intimated the BBMP about the denotification. “The BBMP is now the custodian of the land. The BDA does not even own the land to denotify it,” he said, adding that the local residents too have not been intimated.
“Munikrishnappa claimed that he is the original owner of the land and that the BDA had returned it to him through a denotification order,” Mr. Vinayak said adding that the over 20 families have constructed houses on the denotified land.
Documents accessed by The Hindu show the land in Jnanabharati Layout was denotified by the BDA on October 6, 2010. According to sources in the BDA, both Munikrishnappa and BDA officials kept the denotification secret. “That was the time the illegal denotification scam was making headlines in the media and the Lokayukta was hot on the trail of the violators,” said a senior BDA official.
After land for the Jnanabharati Layout was acquired in 1994, the BDA spent several crores to develop the barren expanse into prime real estate. High-quality roads were built, all civic amenities such as water, electricity, drainage, sanitation and shopping complexes were provided, compensation was paid to the land losers and money was collected from those who were allotted sites. In 2002, the layout was formally handed over to what was then the Kengeri Town Municipal Corporation. It was subsequently taken over by the BBMP.
A BBMP official, who came to the aid of the residents on Thursday as demolition works continued, said that he had contacted BDA officials and asked them to come to the spot but to no avail. “I waited from 2.30 p.m. to 7 p.m. but nobody came,” said the exasperated official.