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Bangalore Encroached II

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Some insider stories, some disturbing questions, and a few happy trends for public participation and accessible governance. Meet Mr. Digvijay Mote, a man interested in investigating the role of judges in judiciary - in the judgments being passed. He is of interest to us because, he has taken the issue of land grabbing in Bangalore as a test case to understand the influence of judges in judgments. In this pursuit, he has done some independent investigations on the issue. Meanwhile, KA Legislature itself has constituted a Joint Legislature Committee to investigate land grabbing in Bangalore Urban District, which is headed by MLA AT Ramaswamy. So the twain met - a curiously inspired and surprisingly well-informed private citizen met a refreshingly eager and approachable public servant. They met and discussed Bangalore's encroached land and get this, it’s on youtube!!* Some background on landgrabbing in Bangalore: Halfway through the investigation, the joint committee discovered that about 27,000 crore rupees worth of Govt., and Public lands have been grabbed. This estimate is based on the guidance value of the grabbed properties, not the true market value. True market value, the price you and I would pay, is a minimum 2 times the guidance value, according to AT Ramaswamy. In certain locations of the city, this true value exceeds even the two times the guidance value estimate. Now to some really really interesting things: One very prominent case of landgrabbing is what is known as the “Judicial Layout” – a layout for judges and court employees – a layout with an unapproved plan, built on unconverted agricultural land and riddled with other irregularities. An illegal layout for the judiciary, go figure! Both Mr. Mote and Mr. Ramaswamy agree on the details and extants of the grab in the Judicial layout. (Sort of verification of Mr. Ramaswamy’s work.) Where they differ is on the underlying dynamics of it. Mr. Ramaswamy’s line is that since KA does not have laws to curb landgrabbing, KA has become a safe haven for landgrabbers. For example, in KA, landgrabbing is not a punishable crime! As a result, there is an influx of money and grabbers from all around the country. Regarding, Judicial Layout in particular, he says, it is the housing committee that is directly responsible, and not the judges and officials. Though, Mr. Ramaswamy maintains that he is still investigating the matter. But Mr. Mote is mincing no words. He says, not only are the judges and court officials directly culpable for the violations, but landgrabbing in Bangalore would not have reached such levels, without the precedence set by this case. The judicial layout case, he contends, established a judicial precedence for cases of illegal conversions and unapproved layouts. Now that is a very fundamental observation and hints at a judge – business nexus. Judiciary got what it wanted from the business, and the business in return gets favours from the judges. judges-business bhai-bhai. Again, Mr. Mote’s interest according to him, is investigating the culpability of judges. So he goes on to make another devastating observation. He says, what the lawyers argue is all fine, but judgment itself is essentially a one man signature, that of the judge. The implied question here is - is their justice beyond law, arguments and procedures? Is the judge the all-powerful? Consider this, in some countries, a jury too is involved. Mr. Mote seems to be exploring the role of judges in much greater detail. For example, he questions why Justice Venkatachala, who has done some real good work, who was the head of lokayukta then, did not take up the case of judicial layout inspite of being informed of the irregularities. Insinuation being, is there a judge-judge nexus? judge-judge bhai-bhai. Given the cynical times we live in, I have to ask if Mr. Mote’s has an agenda. In keeping with his stated aim, Mr. Mote has a more generic website in which he explores the culpability of judges in several other cases. Some judges he lionizes others he disses. I am not knowledgeable enough to gauge the value of those writings, but as far as landgrabbing is considered I understand what he is talking about, it makes sense and it looked like even AT Ramaswamy agreed. But, irrespective of whether Mr. Mote has an agenda or not, given the seriousness of the mess that the Bangalore real estate is, I am happy for the questions he is asking. I am also more than happy that an actual head of a sarkari committee has been available enough to talk openly, in depth, and with interest and eagerness, and more importantly in public on the camera of a commoner. Mr. Mote is no media. At the time of this writing, inspite of being online for a long time, his youtube videos have single digit hits. What does AT Ramaswamy have in it? (There are some real cool moments,which betray the earnestness of these proceedings, when, as things heat up, ATR requests discussions off the camera more than once). I am really happy and feel informed by the level and depth these discussions. Mr. Mote, and Mr. AT Ramaswamy, thanks. Now here are some questions to consider: Does this take egovernance to the next level? Mr. Mote has held similar on camera discussions with the current lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde too**. Can this lead to greater transparency and informed governance? Can we expect to see such open discussions on BMIC, SEZ, Chamalapura, Hebbal etc? ------------- *Mr. Mote meets AT Ramaswamy. Dec 21, 2006 Part1 Dec 21, 2006 Part2 Dec 21, 2006 Part3 Dec 26, 2006 Part1 Dec 26, 2006 Part2 **His Youtube Collection has other interesting videos about the encroachment issue. Joint Legislative Committee On Encroachments In Bangalore Urban District - Interim Report Part-II July 2007, from Mr. Mote's site.


tsubba's picture

45,000 acres of land grabbed

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45,000 acres of land grabbed Deccan Herald The total government land encroached upon in Bangalore urban district has gone up to 45,000 acres. A T Ramaswamy, Chairman, Joint Legislature Committee probing encroachments in Bangalore urban and rural districts, on Tuesday submitted a report to Legislative Assembly Speaker Krishna. Of the 40,000 acres encroached, 33,877 acres belong to the revenue department. Of these, 20,427 acres have been encroached by fabricating records, 5,569 acres for public works and 7,881 encroached upon by land-grabbers. In Bangalore urban district, 22,109 acres have been encroached upon for agriculture purposes and 2,117 acres by residential layouts. According to the committee, 35,666 people are involved. Mr Ramaswamy said he would write to President and Governor seeking action against encroachers.
Naveen's picture

Amazing Stats !

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TS - great compilation ! I had'nt come across this previously - only saw this with yr recent update. Raising the issue now seems like shutting the door after the horse has bolted. Now after 45,000 acres have been grabbed, they seem to have woken up. The whole system reeks of inefficiencies /corruption & people are equally responsible - the ones that pay bribes are as responsible as the officials taking it, & maybe the law needs to be amended to punish both parties much more severely. Collusion with authorities & manipulation is certainly working excellently in this city !
silkboard's picture

Sakrama ...

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Naveen, thats so right - "the ones that pay bribes are as responsible as the officials taking it". But if you look at the currently-making-headlines sakrama scheme, it is asking those who "bribed" (to get their plans approved) to pay and fine and get regular. Those who "took" the bribes (to approve the plans) stay scot-free, and in fact those folks would now be "regularizing" the very plans they may have taken bribes to approve!
tsubba's picture

Some Prominent Encroachers

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Big Shots On Land-Grab List

Ramaswamy panel names 46,000.
The names of big players allegedly involved in encroachment of government land in Bangalore Urban and Bangalore Rural districts are finally out.

Balagangadharanath Swamiji of Adichunchanagiri Math, Ravishankar Guruji of Art of Living Foundation, family members of former chief minister Gundu Rao, former minister Anjanamurthy, industrialist Hari Khoday, Ashok Kheny of NICE, film producer E Krishnappa, his wife Jagadamba are the prominent names that figure in the final report of the A T Ramaswamy committee.

Mr Ramaswamy submitted the final report to Speaker Krishna on Thursday. Among 46,000 encroachers who figure in the report more than 450 personalities belong to families of politicians and industrialists.

The committee report said that Balagangadharanath Swamiji has occupied three acres of government land in Kumbalgodu in Kengeri hobli. The committee has recommended legal action against the encroacher and measures to recover the illegally occupied land.

Similarly, Ravishankar of the Art of Living Foundation has encroached upon 6.35 acres of government land in Agara village in Kengeri hobli in the name of Ravishankar Ashrama. The committee points out that the land encroached upon by the ashrama is worth more than Rs 8 crore.

Gundu Rao family

According to the report, family members of former chief minister Gundu Rao have illegally occupied 47.34 acres in Jala hobli, Bangalore Urban district. Of the total area encroached upon by the family, 30.39 acres are in the name of Varalakshmi Gundu rao, wife of Gundu rao.

Gundu rao’s son and former MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao has encroached upon 10.2 acres, while his brother Mahesh Gundu Rao has illegally occupied 6.15 acres, the report said.

Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises
(NICE) has encroached upon 1.14 acres belonging to the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board in Dasanapura hobli.

The company has encroached upon 4 guntas, 36 guntas and 16 guntas of land in three different places in the hobli.

According to the report, former minister Anjanamurthy has encroached upon about 26 guntas of land in Dasanapura hobli. Film producer E Krishnappa, of Mungaru Male fame, and his wife A Jagadamba have illegally occupied 24 guntas and 38 guntas in Madanaikanahalli respectively.

Mr Ramaswamy, addressing a press conference, said he met the governor and appealed to him to take action against the encroachers. “The governor also appreciated the efforts made by the committee in identifying encroached government lands. He has promised necessary action against the encroachers,” he said.

** Balagangadharanath Swamiji of Adichunchanagiri Math — 3 acres
** Ravishankar of Art of Living Foundation — 6.35 acres worth Rs 8 crore
** Family members of former CM Gundu Rao — 47.34 acres
** Ex-minister Anjanamurthy — 26 guntas
** Ashok Kheny of NICE — 1.14 acres
** E Krishnappa, of Mungaru Male fame, and his wife Jagadamba — 24 guntas and 38 guntas respectively
tsubba's picture

More Encroachers

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Encroachers' list grows longer

Rajya Vokkaligara Sangha,yesteryear star, Vyjjayanthimala, noted film distributor and former chairman of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce H D Gangaraju and Dr Victor Lobo, are among those who figure in list of 46,000 encroachers in the report. However, the copy of the comprehensive report of the Committee has not been made available to media.

The report alleges that companies including L&T, Jindal, IBM computers, Bagemane tech park, Salarpuriya developers, Mantri developers, Kotekal apartments, Purvankara have encroached government land along with religious institutions like Omkar Ashram and Beli Mutt.

Vokkaligara Sangha has alleged to have encroached upon 26.20 acre Government land in Srighanda Kaval in Bangalore north taluk. The Sangha has constructed an educational institution and a student hostel on the land, the value of which, as quoted in the report, is whopping Rs 50 crore.

The report, prepared by the Committee headed by A T Ramaswamy, also state that Siddharth, son-in-law of former CM and Maharastra Governor S M Krishna, has encroached up on 1.12 acre of Byrasandra lake in the name of rejuvenating it.

The joint house committee has said that L&T company has been allegedly illegally doing quarry on 38.03 acre land in Tavarekere hobli. The committee has recommended legal action against the company.

Film distributor Gangaraju has allegedly encroached seven guntas in Pillahalli in Dasanapura hobli, 21 guntas in Vaderahalli and 21 guntas in B M Kaval and yesteryear star Vyjjayanthimala had encroached 2.20 acre Government land in Vibhutipura, constructed an apartment and sold it, according to the report.

Adichunchanagiri Mutt
has encroached nearly 10 acre land in Kengeri, 5.20 acre in Ramohalli and 3.05 acre in Laggere. Similarly, Art of Living has encroached 2.27 acre in B M Kaval, 11.31 acre in Agara.
tsubba's picture

Politics Heats Up..

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Ramaswamy's room locked up

High drama was witnessed in Vidhana Soudha on Friday, when Congress MLC V S Ugrappa locked up the chamber of former MLA and chairman of the joint legislature committee on land grabbing A T Ramaswamy asserting that the latter had no right to continue in office.

Mr Ugrappa, along with some youth Congress leaders, alleged that Mr Ramaswamy ceased to be chairman of the committee the day the Legislative Assembly had been dissolved.

“What is he doing in this chamber, when the committee no long exists,” Mr Ugrappa was heard asking, in a raised voice. Mr Ramaswamy, who was inside the room, came out after the door was unlocked by officials.

Mr Ugrappa charged that the official documents of the committee could be used for political manipulations. Mr Ugrappa also vented his anger on the PS of Speaker Krishna for allowing Mr Ramaswamy to function in Vidhana Soudha even after the dissolution of the Assembly.

AT Ramaswamy Responds..

The exposure of big names by the Joint Legislature Committee in connection with encroachment of 45,000 acres of Government land in Bangalore Urban district has begun to create political ripples.

Congress leader V.S. Ugrappa and others of the party on Friday accused the former chairperson of the committee, A.T. Ramaswamy, and other officers concerned of “trying to tamper with documents” in an effort to “malign political opponents, especially the Congress.”

Mr. Ramaswamy denied the allegation as “baseless” and said that it was “impossible to tamper with the documents” as copies of it were in the possession of the departments.

The names of the members of the Late Gundu Rao’s family had figured prominently in the list of encroachers.

The drama began on Friday evening when Mr. Ugrappa confronted Mr. Ramaswmay and the committee’s special officer K. Narasimhaiah in the Vidhana Soudha and accused them of trying to tamper with the committee’s findings “beyond office hours”.

He said the committee had no locus standi after it was wound up following the dissolution of the Assembly. It was now the business of the secretary concerned to do the needful and the next elected government to take this forward, he said.

Mr. Ramaswamy, who met presspersons later, said that he had come only to seek an appointment with the Speaker to hand over all the documents related to their findings. “We have half a truck load of documents. What do we do with them but hand them over?” he asked. Mr. Narasimhiah said that he had been “ill-treated” by the Congress leaders. “Not a single line can be tampered with because all reports are with departments,” he added.

Speaking to The Hindu, G.V. Srirama Reddy, former MLA, who was also a member of the committee, said: “It is absurd for Mr. Ugrappa to say that we are trying to tamper with the documents.”

In fact, one of the points made by Mr. Ramaswamy to the Governor when he met him on Thursday was that the documents pertaining to encroachment of 45,000 acres of land from all departments should be “kept intact” and that nobody should be allowed to tamper with them, he added.
City.Zen's picture

Pure politics

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Granted, ATR has done monumental work. How come only the opponents of JD(S) figure in the names revealed? Isn't there a single JDS person amongst the landgrabbers? - City Zen
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