The Congress government in Karnataka on Thursday announced that it would set up a house committee of members of the state legislature to probe alleged irregularities in land allotment for the long pending Bengaluru-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project being implemented by the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise.
Public Works Department minister H C Mahadevappa announced the move to set up a house panel to probe the BMIC project land allocations following a debate in the state assembly where several members cutting across party lines alleged that land in excess of what had been originally agreed upon had been granted to the NICE company. The MD of NICE Ashok Kheny is also incidentally an independent legislator in the state assembly.
The PWD minister said that the state government favored private investments in infrastructure and industrial projects. The BMIC project which was started by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda was the chief minister had run into problems with a lot of complaints and litigation, he said.
Given the apprehension expressed over the project that was initiated in 1995 by several members of the house the government will order a probe, the PWD minister said.
“The government will be setting up a house committee to probe into all allegations against the company,” he said.
On Wednesday, members in the legislative assembly cutting across party lines had alleged said that the NICE company had violated the Framework Agreement for the BMIC project. Legislators alleged that the company had not constructed 41 kms of peripheral road and eight kms of link road with concrete as envisaged in the FWA but had built tar roads.
Over 1000 acres of land had been given for the project in excess what was required in the first phase of the project, one of the members alleged.
Most of the excess land was acquired by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board by paying a compensation of Rs three lakh to Rs 10 lakh per acre and the private company had given away these lands for real estate development to private builders for Rs three to Rs five crores, members of the assembly alleged. The company is not authorized to sell the land, members said.
JD(S) floor leader H D Kumaraswamy had suggested during the debate on Wednesday that the government should form a house committee to probe the project instead of debating it in the house.
Law Minister T B Jayachandra who endorsed the views of members and said however that the project was a unique one built on the PPP model.
Under the 1997 BMIC project agreement NICE has to be provided 20,193 acres of land (13,327 acres private land, 6,956 acres government land) to create a 111 km expressway and five townships between Bangalore and Mysore, over a period of 10 years from commencement of work.
It is alleged in many quarters especially by former prime minister H D Devegowda, who is now a staunch opponent of the project, that the company received 2250 acres in excess of the total land required under the FWA under the Congress government that ruled between 1999-2004.
Only a 41 km peripheral road and an eight km link road has been built under the project so far. These roads are currently under use as NICE toll roads for travelling around Bangalore and for entry and exits for the city.