Updated: June 13, 2021 4:44:50 am
The Karnataka High Court has asked the state government for its stand on the decision to sell 3,667 acres of mining land in Ballari to steel major JSW Steel Ltd, following a PIL opposing the April 26 state Cabinet decision to sell the government land to the private firm.
“The learned additional government advocate will take instructions whether any decision has been taken as alleged to transfer the government land to the extent of 3,667 acres to the eleventh respondent,” a division bench said this week, while posting the case for further hearing on June 15.
The PIL against the sale, filed by a former state public prosecutor S Doreraju, on behalf of an activist K A Paul, has questioned the decision of the B S Yediyurappa-led government to sell the land at a “throwaway” price when the market price is around Rs 1 crore per acre.
On April 26, the government first cleared the sale of the land to JSW Steel at a price of Rs 1.22 lakh per acre — in line with lease cum sale agreements signed with JSW Steel in 2006 and 2007, under a JD(S)-BJP coalition government.
However, the government reversed the decision in a Cabinet meeting on May 27.
The sale proposal had earlier been tabled by the Congress-JD(S) government in 2019, but was withdrawn after a two-day BJP protest —Yediyurappa had also participated in the agitation.
The decision to sell was also opposed by a section of the ruling party MLAs including, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, Arvind Bellad. They wrote to the party leadership saying the sale was against the interests of the state. BJP’s Ballari in-charge, Anand Singh, had also opposed the deal saying the land should be leased to the company and not sold. “Today, they are giving away land worth over Rs 3,500 crore for Rs 50-60 crore and I oppose it,” he had said soon after the cabinet decision.
On May 27, facing opposition from BJP ranks, the state Cabinet decided to reverse the April 26 move.
“There are a number of cases in the Supreme Court and a PIL has been filed in the High Court and in this context, a decision was taken to put the sale of land on hold,” Law minister Basavaraj Bommai said on May 27, after the Cabinet meeting. He said a decision on the land deal would be taken based on the outcome of the cases in the courts.
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