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Did state illegally give BIAL forest land for commercial purposes

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Cross posted from my Bangalore Aviation blog

A potentially explosive report in today's Deccan Chronicle

The state government has illegally helped the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) to develop commercial real estate on some 200 acres of forest land. BIAL is developing a star hotel, restaurants and office space on this land — all in violation of the Union government’s rules, regulations and Acts. Documents available with the Deccan Chronicle reveal that the State government, which acquired 1,394 acres from the Forest department on a perpetual lease after taking approval from the Union ministry of environment and forests, has sub-leased the land to Bial. Bial is now aggravating the violation by developing real estate on 200 acres of this land for purely private profit, in violation of provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
The state government, which was advised by the Ramanathan Committee to set up the airport at Devanahalli in the mid-90s, sought permission from the Union ministry to acquire the forest land for the infrastructure project. The Union ministry accorded the permission, but with a string of riders in its letter dated August 27, 2002, prominent among which is the condition that the status of the forest land should never be altered.
On December 17, 2002, the state Forest department transferred 1,394.2 acres to the Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation (KSIIDC), which became the lessee. The forest area around Yarthiganahalli, Bettekote, Gangamuthanahalli bearing survey numbers 7, 8, 46, 55P, 23, 35, 88 and 12 were handed over to the KSIIDC, which was the nodal agency for the airport.
Following this, there was a lull in airport development activities for the next two years as the Bial and the State government got into a slugfest with each other over a mutually acceptable concession agreement. Then, in a move to honour its commitment to hand over 4,000-plus acres to Bial, the state altered the government order without taking the requisite permission from the Union ministry using the expedient of inserting text into the original order.
The state government simply issued a corrigendum on March 4, 2004, which reads: “In the sixth line of the order portion, after the word ‘KSIIDC’ and before the word ‘subject’ the following words shall be inserted — and to sub-lease the same by KSIIDC to Bangalore International Airport Limited.” The insertion was made to transfer the land from the KSIIDC to the Bial. The original land transfer order specifically mentions that the forest land will be in the custody of the KSIIDC.
The sub-lease was made in violation of the conditions set by the Union ministry, which had clearly stated in its 2002 approval order that in case of deviations or alterations a fresh reference had to be made to the ministry and clearance obtained. What followed the corrigendum was worse. The KSIIDC entered into a sub-lease agreement with the Bial on August 12, 2004 which allowed the private body to use the forest land for airport, airport-related activities and non-aeronautical activities as well.
By doing this, the state government, which first acquired the land on perpetual lease thereby becoming the lessee, now had sub-leased the land to Bial and become the lessor and allowed real estate development on forest land in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2003, which state that the use of forest land may be allowed for roads, bridges, running high-tension lines and such other infrastructure-related projects only.
Even certain other infrastructure projects such as putting up power plants, ports and bus stations on forest land could be taken up only after obtaining permission from the Union ministries which they would give after studying the impact on the environment of such projects. Even if the Bial were to be given a clean chit in this whole episode, since the consortium is simply going ahead with a masterplan that has the government’s stamp of approval on it, the fact remains that a five-star hotel and commercial office space are being constructed on forest land. Bial has also borrowed money against airport land, which includes the 1,394 acres of forest land in question, from the lead bank financing the project.

The reported R. Jayaprakash is a seasoned and responsible reporter. He claims to have the documents. So for now let us assume his report as accurate.

What should be the remedial steps taken ? Taking back the land is out of the question. It will hurt the airport operator BIAL beyond repair. At the same time protection of forests is vital. What will be the potential ramifications of this report on the Joint House Committee investigations, or the banking consortium ? As usual, comments are invited.

 

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

Airport land aligned to favor politicians !

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Devesh,

Thanks for sharing this news.

Along with these violations, BIAL airport has been shifted some 400 or so meters from the DPR to protect 600+acres owned by influential politicians.

Devesh's picture

Rumour is land of Katta Subramanyam Naidu and Venkaiah Naidu

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Along with these violations, BIAL airport has been shifted some 400 or so meters from the DPR to protect 600+acres owned by influential politicians.

Rumour is land of Katta Subramanyam Naidu and Venkaiah Naidu. I wonder how this will impact the JHC probe, since the BJP is in power.

It amazes me, how come so few responses, when it comes to a story like this. At any other time, we have hordes of folks jumping up and down, on both sides of the fence.

-----------------------

Regards

Devesh R. Agarwal

Visit my aviation blog at http://aviation.deveshagarwal.com

 

-----------------------
Regards
Devesh
Bangalore Aviation
Enjoy life, destroy FUD
idontspam's picture

My six rupees

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1. When forest land was sought for the airport and the same was given what was the point of stating the forest land should not be altered? Why give the land for the airport if it was not to be altered?

2. KSIIDC is not an agricultural institution. So when forest land was transferred to KSIIDC it was surely for the purpose of using it for industrial development purposes. Now whether BIAL takes or HAL takes that land does not matter. If the land was not to be altered it should have remained with the forest department.

3. If protection of forests is important why are we turning a blind eye to the BDA masterplan which is destroying the green belt for far more useless infrastructure? We have consistently with the help of the real estate lobby destroyed Bangalores green cover and are picking up a fight with BIAL the only piece of functioning infrastructure worth its salt in the city.

4. If politicians land was avoided then hold politicians responsible for behaving unethically. I am sure it was not like BIAL had voluntarily avoided poiticians land while the saintly ministers did not pull any strings.

5. I am surprised in the 40 years of HAL's existence there was not a single violation or inefficiency that was fought for with such ferocity. If that were the case we wouldnt have been where we are now. And now that we are here let us fight the battles on pollution, beuracratic corruption, inadequate road engineering, public transport inadequacy, public saftey and others which affect wider populace.

Now my 6th rupee is that I think the GoK as a stakeholder is well equipped to take up this matter with the BIAL board and see if it can be sensitive to this fact and work around it.

silkboard's picture

Still digesting it

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Honestly, I was lost there in leases and bu-leases. Plus, I was thinking about the objective of this investigation, goes on similar lines as idontspam above - is it conserve forest land, or to target BIAL for they may have "worked" the state government into handing over forest land to them?

If it was just a matter of not taking a requisite permission from Union Government, then perhaps the same permission can be taken in some "retro-active" fashion.

I can also argue against the line "Bial is now aggravating the violation by developing real estate on 200 acres of this land for purely private profit".

BIAL, after all is a PPP to build infrastructure for public. PPP involves give and take, supposedly for the good of public. Land is the "give" here, and infrastructure the "take". So, the land deals are not really a case of "purely private profit".

Perhaps our city's mainstream media realizes that this PPP called BIAL has the scope to supply them real good stories. Great, but won't we love to have them probe all aspects of it - all "dealings" between and amongst MoCA, GoK, KSIIDC, AAI and BIAL. Public will love to know it all:

  • List all the "real" reasons for delay
  • Who owns all the land on the periphery of the airport today
  • Who did the most land transactions the year before the airport land was finalized
  • Has someone approved and audited the build-expense reports of the new airport, how do we know its worth the cost they say (Rs 2500 crores) it is
bayern's picture

People are tired of arguing about BIAL

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"It amazes me, how come so few responses, when it comes to a story like this. At any other time, we have hordes of folks jumping up and down, on both sides of the fence.
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Regards Devesh R. Agarwal "

 
 
I think people on both sides of the fence have given up arguing about BIAL. After all these days everyone has come to the conclusion that BIAL was never as bad as one made it out to be.  Lets face it, this airport is miles ahead when it comes to functionality,aesthetics & comfort when compared to the ones run by AAI, so lets leave it there and move on. Instead of  spending time on a BIAL witchhunt, people should probably focus on Namma metro project, right now that project needs to get some heat.
 
And I always find it amazing that "Decan Chronicle" is the only newspaper who constantly publish anti-BIAL articles beginning way before BIAL was even opened but always had very favorable views towards HIAL. Forget the airports Deccan has always been critical of Bangalore as a whole, whenever there is anything positive coming out of  Bangalore, you will see a negative article about if from Deccan.  I understand their favouritism towards Hyderabad, but  for heaven's sake they are a news agency first, not some whyny little kids in kindergarten!

BIAL should consider a small terminal

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IMO, BIAL should seriously consider opening a small terminal in the region between Kanakapura Road and Mysore Road, which is linked by the NICE Road.

This should ideally give south bangaloreans a closer airport. A recent study by students of Mount Carmel College revealed that over 40% of the the people who use BIAL are from south bangalore.

Perhaps a limited capacity terminal, i.e limiting to about 5 to 10 million pax per annum could be opened in South Bangalore by BIAL itself.

Many industrial areas in south bangalore like Bommasandra, Jigani et al could serve as cargo feeders to the south Bangalore airport. Even Bidadi could be well served by this airport.

Criticism of BIAL woudl then evaporate totally. I only wonder why BIAL is not seriously considering the "root" causes of the angst against BIAL. 
kbsyed61's picture

Praja discussions are more than BIAL - HAL arguments!

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Praja community members have demonstrated that they can do much more than just blogging and criticizing the majority opinion. KR Puram Ped Xing, Meetings with Lok Ayukta, KSRTc chairman, Praveen Sood and RTI efforts on BIAL are enough evidence for Praja to be unique among social blogging sites.

kbsyed61's picture

It is a magic maze !

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So far from my initial reading of various documents available on Praja which are obtained through RTI, at the outset do not suggests any violations with regards to forest land. May be there are other documents that I should looked into.

So for I have gone through, Sate support agreement, amended SSA, MOU between GOK and AAI and Land lease agreement documents. But that doesn't mean what is said in the news item is false. It could be true as is claimed in Deccan Chronicle. DC would do a favor to the public by publishing the report verbatim.

BIAL is turning into a magic maze, everyday it takes new turns and shapes. It is getting complex day by day. So far what ever info is in public domain makes it difficult to pinpoint the single entity who could be accused of wrong doing. It seems from top to bottom every entity associated with it have played their nefarious moves. Some for personal gains, some for political gains, some for corporate benefits.and some by not doing anything.

Now what should Govt & BIAL do? It is too late to do anything with this piece of land. BAIL can sponsor projects that would preserve forest lands in other places for atonement of BIAL's sins.

Present government should come clean on this issue and present all facts about BIAL in public domain including the list of related issues that SB talked about in his post.

Brunner and Co

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Perhaps Brunner and Co should live in places like Banashankari, J P Nagar and try to go to BIAL during peak hours in BMTC buses - not cabs. Only then will they realise why so many bangaloreans are anti-BIAL.
praja.bengaluru's picture

Forest land details are mentioned in Land Lease Agreement

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Syed,

In you look at page 80 in the Land Lease Agreement, you get the details of the forest land that was given to BIAL. As per the documents a total of 1381 acers of forest land is part of BIAL now.

This 1381 acers is not a single chunk of land, instead it is spread through out the airport. Of this around 200 acers is in the region where the hotels and other commercial establishments are coming up.

It is pretty sad to see some of the comments here. How can we accept corruption just because we need to allow the airport function smoothly. This "Chaltha Hai" attitude of ours is the root cause of all out problems. HAL is an old story, people werent as demanding as we are now. Just because we didnt dig into HAL does not imply that we shouldnt do that with BIAL. After all our ultimate aim is to have a profitable world class airport in our city. I truly want this thing to be an international transportation hub not a money spinning business for some vested interests.

What is wrong in a newspaper exposing these facts. I though that was the work of the media - just because they are a Hyderabad based company how can we assume that they are doing this to promote HIAL. I only hope that more and more such reports come out.

And this is not a bus stand that we are talking about, to build one next to every locality.

Siemens pleads guilty to bribery

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Siemens AG, the main promoter of BIAL has pleaded guilty to bribery charges:

http://bangalore.praja.in...
Devesh's picture

Siemens paying a fine for bribery

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I heard the news story, and had an amusing observation.

Siemens will pay a "fine" for bribery. Isn't this the ethical equivalent of "bribing" the prosecuting government to get forgiveness for past sins ?

-----------------------

Regards

Devesh R. Agarwal

Visit my aviation blog at http://aviation.deveshagarwal.com

 

-----------------------
Regards
Devesh
Bangalore Aviation
Enjoy life, destroy FUD
narayan82's picture

More airports...

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Mcadambi,

I disagree strongly, with your proposition to have smaller airports around bangalore/karnataka. This way we will end up loosing even more forest land!

Apart from taking up forest land, Airports are fare more hazardous to the environment. We have to plan them and use them with some concern for the future of this planet. Blindly, using convenience as an excuse, we go on giving ourselves such luxuries, and in the process silently murder our own planet! If we go this way, I can assure you 2 generations down this planet will be barren!

What we can do, is still have our luxuries but look at sustainable modes of travel that interconnect each other. We can find a way to get to BIAL from Banashankri without building another airport. But somehow we override this fact and insist on blowing tons of fuel at 31,000 ft so that we can save 10-15 mins a day!

I would reccomend you see Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
kbsyed61's picture

Land lease Agreement !

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praja.bengaluru, Thanks for correcting me. Could you pls point out the clause/sub-clause which binds BIAL to maintaining the forest land in its original form or take the prior permission from GOK or GOI for converting it into the commercial use? Syed
bayern's picture

Re: BIAL should consider a small terminal

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"Perhaps a limited capacity terminal, i.e limiting to about 5 to 10 million pax per annum could be opened in South Bangalore by BIAL itself.

Many industrial areas in south bangalore like Bommasandra, Jigani et al could serve as cargo feeders to the south Bangalore airport. Even Bidadi could be well served by this airport.

Criticism of BIAL woudl then evaporate totally. I only wonder why BIAL is not seriously considering the "root" causes of the angst against BIAL. "

Mcdambi,

I agree that the new airport should have been around Bidadi , which would have served both Bangalore & Mysore population, unfortunately our politicians put their own interest first and chose devanahalli instead, and its not a secret as to why Devanahalli was chosen.

But it is wrong to accuse BIAL for the location of the airport. Devanahalli was chosen as the airport site by the our own govt  even before BIAL were in the picture. If you recall, Tata group was awarded this contract first, BIAL got this contract only after Tata group walked away from it. Anyways point is BIAL had nothing to do with the location of the airport. The tender was for a promoter to build and operate airport at Devanahalli.

Now, on your suggestion that BIAL should build another terminal in the South Bangalore.Well, they can't, all they can do is propose and suggest to the govt, but they don't have the right to build and operate multiple airports in Bangalore.


Thermal plant pollution the greatest

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Hi Narayan,

Jetfuel pollution that is reckoned to be caused due to the airline industry is quite exaggerated and not proved beyond resonable doubt.

What hurts the planet the most is CO2 emissions by Thermal power plants that burn low grade coal, mostly in India. Because of competitive populism, and other related politics, there has been no move to remove thermal plants and replace them with Hydro, Renewable and Nuclear plants.

The greens IMO, should target thermal plants and support the Indo-US nuclear deal if they are really concerned about the enivronment and not some "know-it-all" self-styled "scholars" such as Arundhati Roy and Praful Bidwai. Enuf said!

Here is a relevant story about Jet pollution:

http://www.csmonitor.com/...

BIAL is in driver's seat

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Bayern, I agree BIAL cannot be blamed per se for the location.

However, BIAL is still in the driver's seat when it comes to amending the Concession Agreement. This is why there is a bone of contention and a root cause of angst.

When it was suggested that BIAL be given rights to operate domestic services out of HAL, BIAL turned that request down.

Even now, there is room for BIAL to amend it's position w.r.t the CA.

The GoK will not move BIAL to amend the CA unless the promoters of BIAL would want to do it in the first place.

I am sure there would be support for a Bangalore South terminal should BIAL take the initiative. I am 100% sure BCCI and other trade bodies would welcome such a proposal. Even the populace of economically better of south bangalore would welcome it. The recent Mount Carmel College study also attested to the fact that nearly 30% of the users of BIAL are from south Bangalore.

Instead of going on for an expansion at Devanahalli, which is quite unlikely to yield good economic results, BIAL should seriously think of operating a limited capacity terminal out of HAL - for Low cost carriers (ATRs, RJs, Embraers) and another terminal in south Bangalore in the near future.

If at all the promoters of BIAL are reading this!
kbsyed61's picture

Read the documents !

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Friends, Find some time to read the documents that are out in public domain including Concession agreement, State support agreement, Land Lease agreement, MOU between KSIIDC & AAI, DGCA inspection reports, AAI capacity assessment, Traffic Data collected by AAI etc. All these are available on Praja itself. Syed
Devesh's picture

"Read the documents !" - Amen!!!!

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Very well said Syed. Many times, we (myself included) tend to shoot off our mouths (or in this case our keyboards), without loading our brains with the facts.

In fact, I observed that Mailabode copied my post of this news article on to SkyScraper City without proper context.

Incidentally, we had a great meeting at our Infrastructure committee yesterday, and the vision laid out by Mr. Arvind Jadhav for the roads in Karnataka is something, I would request Silkboard to post in a separate post.

We are working closely with BIAL on addressing many of the shortcomings that is affecting industry. We have requested, coordinated, and with BMTC cooperation, ensured the shuttle bus service between the main bus stop in front of PTB to the service buildings like flight kitchens, cargo terminals, and upcoming cargo village has commenced.

It was a frank yet positive meeting and progress is being made.

-----------------------

Regards

Devesh R. Agarwal

Visit my aviation blog at http://aviation.deveshagarwal.com

-----------------------
Regards
Devesh
Bangalore Aviation
Enjoy life, destroy FUD
kbsyed61's picture

Sincere efforts always yields positive results

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Devesh,

You and BCIC must be congratulated for getting the shuttle service started inside BIAL connecting various buildings apart from Passenger Terminal. Thank you.

You are proving my earlier assertions that constant pressure on companies and agencies would do bring results. Lets keep up the pressure on BIAL to provide all the required amenities to passengers, employees, contractors, customers and other users of the airport.

Any chance for one more of your visit to BIAL to give us the first hand info?

Once again, thanks for all your efforts.

Regards,

Syed

AAI report on BIAL

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http://www.expressbuzz.co...

"In a major embarrassment to the beleaguered Bangalore International Airport Authority Limited (BIAL), the Airport Authority of India’s (AAI) technical committee has concluded that the passenger handling capacity of BIA, both international and domestic terminals, had already reached the saturation point and both terminals were below international standards."

More on corruption at Siemens

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http://tinyurl.com/87dkuz

Petition to MCA

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I am going to Petition to Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation about the corrupt practices of Siemens AG, the promoter of BIAL. Unless the whip is cracked on Siemens AG, it will not be tuned to public opinion.
bayern's picture

while you are at it, also

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while you are at it, also ask them how much did MoCA & Deve Gowda's govt receive from Siemens.
kbsyed61's picture

Pot is asked to call the Kettle Black,

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Mcadambi,

It is a good idea to hold the public representatives (KSIIDC, MOCA, GOK, GOI)  for their accountability in BIAL project. But asking MoCA to choke Siemens on bribery charges is like asking the POT (MoCA) to call the Kettle (Siemens-Zurich Consortia) black.

More prudent would be that you get hold of the evidence from the ruling politicians and their Babus for the justification of BIAL cost to be Rs.2400 crores.

History tells us that all politicians are of same creed, it is just that they wear different party labels. Only few are exceptions.

Syed

kbsyed61's picture

AAI Capacity Assesment Report and!

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Mcadambi,

Looks like news media is getting more spices and Masala along with the actual reports. The official copy of the AAI report on BIAL's capacity assessment is available here http://bangalore.praja.in/blog/kbsyed61/2008/11/23/bial-rti-response-ministry-civil-aviation.

Interesting to note here that some of the numbers found in this report here matches with the numbers given in the State Support Agreement between GOK and BIAL and its amendments http://bangalore.praja.in/blog/rithesh/2008/12/03/bial-rti-state-support-agreement.

Also interesting to read the MOU between KSIIDC and AAI, signed in 1999 during Late Shri J H Patel and Shri Ananth Kumar. This MOU also has details on limited use of HAL airport after the new airport. Kudos to AAI inputs for such far sighted vision.

Syed

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