We're taking turns for round-the-clock vigil: residents
It has emerged that the 2.22 acres of land in Jnanabharathi BDA Layout was secretly returned to the original owner — 20 years after it was acquired from him — on the express orders of none other than then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
When present owners, who purchased the sites in 2000 from the Bangalore Development Authority, approached officials on Friday, they were reportedly told that the decision to denotify was taken by the Government and only the Government could reverse it.
The former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who visited the residents on Friday, explained that the BDA was directly under the Chief Minister's Office. “Nobody in the Government, barring the Chief Minister, has the power to denotify acquired land,” he said. Meanwhile, residents, some of who have constructed houses, have organised themselves into small patrolling units. A visit to the area on Friday revealed that these units are keeping a round-the-clock vigil. Each unit has only one simple brief: ‘Raise an alarm the moment you spot bulldozers'.
They have not slept ever since they found out that sites sold to them have been returned to the original owner through a denotification order passed by the BDA in October 2010. There are around 1,200 sites in the layout of which around 50 face the threat of repossession. None of the site owners were intimated about the denotification and they discovered the horrendous development only on August 8 when the original owner, one Munikrishnappa, hired bulldozers and ploughed up the main road in the area. They are now scared that he may move to take possession of the land and demolish their houses.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which is now the maintaining authority, has already filed a police complaint against Mr. Munikrishnappa for destroying public property.
H.L. Lakshminarayana (58), a tailor with the Karnataka State Reserve Police, found out that he was going to lose his site only through media reports on Friday. “I took a Rs.1.5-lakh loan from a bank to purchase this site from the BDA. I was planning to build a house two years from now using my retirement money,” he told The Hindu. Mr. Lakshminarayana, who suffered a serious heart attack just 10 months ago, is too unwell to join one of the residents' patrolling units. Mr. Kumaraswamy advised the residents to secure a High Court stay. “But the High Court is closed until Tuesday. What if something happens to our houses before that,” one resident pointed out to Mr. Kumaraswamy.
Speaking to the media later, Mr. Kumaraswamy claimed that he had exposed the illegal denotification in Jnanabharathi Layout around six months ago. “But at that time I had exposed so many scams that people did not pay attention to what happened in Jnanabharathi Layout,” he said.
Even as he said that he would speak to Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and seek a reversal of the denotification order, Mr. Kumaraswamy said: “I have no hopes that my request will be heard. The best bet for these residents is the High Court.”
Meanwhile, BDA officials, right from Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena all the way down to those in the land acquisition and allotments sections, maintained a deafening silence. Repeated efforts to contact them for a reaction failed to elicit a response.