KARNATAKA

DUDA may take back eight sites

Criminal proceedings soon against two former officials of development authority

H.S. Narasimha Kumar

DAVANGERE: The Deputy Commissioner, M.S. Ravishankar, said here on Monday that he had cancelled the sale of eight sites through auction conducted by the Davangere Urban Development Authority (DUDA) last year.

Mr. Ravishankar said on Monday that the State Government has decided to book criminal cases against Shoukath Ali, who has been removed from the post of the Chairman of DUDA recently and against the former Commissioner of DUDA, Thimma Reddy, for allegedly committing irregularities in the auction of some sites.

The Government had asked the Deputy Commissioner, who has taken over as DUDA Chairman, to cancel the auction of all eight sites and immediately take possession of the properties. The sites, which were reserved for government buildings, were allegedly sold in auction to some people said to be close to Mr. Ali.

The Deputy Commissioner said he will appeal to the Sub-Registrar concerned to remove the names of those in whose name the sites were registered and re-register the sites in the name of DUDA.

Two persons, who bought the sites in the auction by paying full amount, on Monday offered to surrender the sites, he said.

Clarification sought

Shantharam Nayak, Under Secretary to the Government, Department of Urban Development, has sent a fax message to the Deputy Commissioner asking him to book cases against the two officials and cancel the auction. The Deputy Commissioner has sought clarification from the Government whether to continue with the nominated members of DUDA.

The district administration is said to be framing charges against the two before initiating criminal proceedings. The Deputy Commissioner is awaiting instructions from the Government on whether to engage the public prosecutor or hire a private lawyer for the case.

The prominent sites which Mr. Ali and Mr. Reddy allegedly auctioned for a low price are 318/36 measuring 50 ft. x 60 ft., 318/37 measuring 30 ft. x 75 ft., 318/38 measuring 25 ft. x 75 ft., 318/39 measuring 30 ft. x 75 ft., 318/40 measuring 25 ft. x 50 ft., 318/41 measuring 25 ft. x 50 ft., 318/56 measuring 25 ft. x 60 ft., and the eight sites for which site numbers had not been mentioned measure 50 ft. x 80 ft.

When DUDA put up site 318/41 for auction on August 4, 2004, the highest bid was Rs. 2.40 lakhs. Not satisfied with this, Mr. Reddy did not auction the site. But when the same site was put up for auction again on August 27, 2004 (23 days after the first bid), the highest bid received was Rs. 1.57 lakhs. Both Mr. Reddy and Mr. Ali decided to go ahead with the auction.

With regard to the auction of eight sites, DUDA had received Rs. 5.77 lakhs collected as 25 per cent of the total value of the sites. But the amount was not remitted to DUDA account on the same day. It was deposited in the account only when the Assistant Commissioner of Davangere had taken over as the in-charge Commissioner of DUDA.

Records examined

Pankaj Kumar Pande, Commissioner of Mysore Urban Development Authority, had visited DUDA office recently at the instance of the Government and had examined all records before submitting his report to the Government. Mr. Ravikumar, a senior officer from the Department of Urban Development, had visited DUDA and he had seized some records from DUDA.

Based on reports of the two, the Government replaced Mr. Ali as the Chairman a few days ago and asked the Deputy Commissioner to take charge of DUDA.

The Deputy Commissioner told The Hindu that he had asked the Urban Development Department to provide him documents so that legal charges can be framed on strong grounds. He said he had been studying all legal aspects of withdrawing the allotment of sites auctioned and he had asked the department to advise him on the procedure to be followed in the case.

S.A. Ravindranath, Shyamanur Shivashankarappa, Shivanna Tiluvalli, H. Anjaneya, all MLAs, and H.S. Shiva Shankar, MLC, all members of DUDA, had refused to approve the auction at a meeting of the authority held a few months ago. All of them had condemned the "illegal auction". They had reportedly written to the Government to cancel the auction.

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