OTHERS

Dasashram land lease rocks BMP Council

BANGALORE, FEB. 26. The Janata Dal (Secular) members staged a dharna in the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) Council and stalled the discussion on the budget on Thursday.

They were objecting to the reported remarks made by the Urban Development Minister, D.K. Shivakumar, that the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, had been behaving like a corporator in connection with the controversy surrounding the Dasashram International Centre in Rajajinagar Fifth Block.

Mr. Shivakumar is the Working President of the centre.

Lease violation alleged

The Janata Dal (Secular) had been demanding that the BMP, which leased the property to the centre in 1971, should cancel the lease and recover the property as it (centre) had violated the lease agreement.

At the meeting, the Opposition leader, Syed Jameel Ahmed, wanted the Mayor, P.R. Ramesh, to accept a memorandum from the party whose members had been agitating outside the hall. But the Mayor rejected this on the plea that the Council meeting was on.

This irked the Janata Dal (Secular) corporators, who said the demonstrators would leave the BMP premises only if the Mayor accepted the memorandum.

When Mr. Ramesh sent the Commissioner, M.R. Sreenivasa Murthy, to pacify the protestors, the latter trooped into the well of the House and refused to budge. Amidst the chaos, the Mayor adjourned the Council.

Commissioner's assurance

The Commissioner reportedly assured the protestors outside the hall that the case would be studied in detail.

"Appropriate measures will be initiated to prevent the land from being misused," he told them.

Loan-based budget

Later, participating in the discussions, Padmanabha Reddy (Janata Dal-United) said the Rs. 1,285-crore budget was formulated based on a loan of Rs. 2,000 crore from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation, the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Finance Corporation, and the World Bank.

"This means, every Bangalorean has to repay a debt of Rs. 40,000," he said.

He wanted the Commissioner to give details of the utilisation of improvement charges collected in the new wards. "Tell us how much of the budget is BMP's revenue," he asked.

Lauding the BMP for executing development work in the last two years, Mr. Reddy said the State Government had not contributed to the development.

"All the projects are implemented with funds from HUDCO and other agencies. But the Congress Government is taking credit for it", he said.

Terming the budget as "old wine in an old bottle with a changed label", he said the BMP could double its revenue if all the property were brought under the tax net. Several top commercial organisations in the city had been evading tax, he said.

The Jogupalya corporator, B.N. Mangala, and M.Udayshankar and M. Nagaraj (both Congress) spoke.