Violation took place before my time: BDA commissioner

The promoters of the 300-acre Manyata Tech Park near Hebbal, who have been facing allegations of illegal land grab ever since the project’s inception in 2000, are once again at the centre of a controversy.

Land that they were to hand over to the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for construction of parks, open spaces and civic amenities continues to be in the possession of the builders. Indeed, they have sold, illegally occupied, constructed buildings and rented them out for commercial gain.

Documents provided to The Hindu by Congress leader K.N. Chakrapani, show that the common areas were handed over to the BDA by Manyata Promoters Pvt. Ltd. through a relinquishment deed on August 11, 2003.

However, when we visited the site recently with a measuring tape, it emerged that the relinquishment exists only on paper. The parks do not measure up to the size mentioned in the relinquishment deed and the Civic Amenities (CA) plots have been encroached upon by the developer.

For instance, a large building has been constructed by the developer on CA plot number nine measuring nearly 24,000 sq. ft. When the occupants of the building — Vijaya Energy Plus — were questioned, they said they have been occupying the building on rent for the last decade. They said that they have been paying rent to Manyata Promoters Pvt. Ltd., but they did not reveal the amount being paid.

Another large building stands on the adjoining parks numbered eight and nine which the developers are using as their site office. Together, the two parks measure over 1.36 lakh sq. ft., or more than three acres.

Park number 20, which according to the relinquishment deed is supposed to measure 21,112 sq. ft., is only 18,750 sq. ft. when measured with a tape. Although The Hindu wanted to measure more parks in the area, the hostility of the security guards forced us to retreat. Park number five, which is supposed to measure 55,000 sq. ft. or 1.5 acres appeared no larger than a tennis court.

These alleged encroachments assume significance in the light of the fact that each square foot in this area, which is home to film stars and politicians, is valued at anywhere between Rs. 12,000 and Rs. 15,000.

Meaning, the shortage of 2,362 sq. ft. at park number 20 is worth nearly Rs. 3 crore and the two parks measuring 1.36 lakh sq. ft., on which Manyata has built its site, is worth over Rs. 163 crore in the open market.

When BDA Commissioner T. Sham Bhat was asked why the agency has not made a move to take possession of land that rightfully belongs to the public, he said that the illegalities of the Manyata Tech Park are very old and were committed before his time. Promising to take action if he receives a complaint, he said, “If we go after them, there are many others in the same category.”

However, Reddy Veeranna, chairman and managing director of Manyata Promoters Ltd., said, “We have not committed any illegalities to the best of my knowledge. We have left space for parks and other amenities as per the law. We have not given any property on rent to anybody. I haven’t heard of Vijaya Energy Plus.”

The Manyata Tech Park and its promoters are no strangers to controversy. In a story that appeared in these columns on October 8, 2011, titled ‘Vyalikaval society sold land to IT Park’, it was exposed how land, which should have been allotted to society members at subsidised rates, was sold to Manyata at a measly Rs. 100 per sq. ft. when the going rate was Rs. 1,500 per sq. ft.

Earlier this year, the CAG also uncovered illegalities in the manner in which land was allotted to the Manyata Promoters by the KIADB and the BDA under political pressure.

Vowing to take the latest expose to its end, Mr. Chakrapani said, “The cosy relationship between land developers, politicians and bureaucrats is well known. That is why the BDA lacks courage to take them on.”

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