No progress in land swap deal with Defence Ministry

Civic officials say at least eight infrastructure projects across the city are in limbo

Published - December 11, 2018 06:41 am IST - Bengaluru

1st main road from Hosmat Hospital to Viveknagar is one of the roads proposed to be widened.

1st main road from Hosmat Hospital to Viveknagar is one of the roads proposed to be widened.

Civic officials are worried about the fate of infrastructure projects that have been in limbo on account of delays and problems in the acquisition of defence land. The BBMP needs 45,165.84 square metres of defence land valued at ₹282.09 crore for several key road projects, including a road from Ejipura Inner Ring Road to Sarjapura Main Road; a road connecting NH-7 up to Sanjivinagara in Byatarayanapura, and another connecting NH-7 to Hebbal Sarovara Layout via AMCO Layout in Kodigehalli.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had participated in a meeting in August to sort out issues related to acquisition of defence land for development projects in Bengaluru. Civic officials, however, said that there has been no movement since then.

“We are losing hope,” said a senior BBMP official.

In the August meeting, the defence ministry had agreed to hand over the land in exchange for land of equal value elsewhere. The State government had identified 209.8 acres in and around the city worth ₹488 crore.

The joint task force that was to be constituted to resolve all outstanding issues expeditiously and amicably has remained only on paper.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy told reporters recently that he had raised the issue of land swap with the Ms. Sitharaman twice since the initial meeting in August. “During the meeting in August, she had issued directions to defence personnel to provide land for various projects. However, her directions have not received a positive response from defence ministry officials. This is despite regular follow-up by the chief secretary,” he said.

Highly placed sources in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) told The Hindu that following the ‘positive outcome of the August meeting’, the civic body was all set to take up construction of an alternate road from Kaval Byrasandra Main Road to Modi Garden in D.J. Jalli. The date for the ground-breaking ceremony for the work, to be presided over by Mr. Kumaraswamy, was announced. “We had put up pandals at the spot. Overnight, however, around 30 gun-wielding defence personnel objected to the work,” a civic official alleged.

Senior civic officials immediately attempted to get in touch with the defence officials concerned. “We even produced the minutes of the meeting held on August 4 and the communication thereafter on August 25 from the IndArmy (LW South) to the Southern Command headquarters, but to no avail. The ceremony had to be called off,” they said.

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