MYSORE: The Lokayukta police have indicted 46 people, including JD(S) MLA G T Devegowda and his son G T Harish, in a land compensation scam.
They allegedly cheated farmers of about Rs 35 crore of a total payout of Rs 164.25 crore for land acquired in Yelwal hobli of Mysore taluk.
Mysore Division Lokayukta Superintendent of Police S M Jagadish Prasad submitted the probe report to Upa Lokayukta Subhash B Adi in Bangalore on Thursday.
When contacted, Devegowda said the charge was a conspiracy to ruin his family’s political future by some people in the government.
The Karnataka Housing Board (KHB) had acquired 450 acres from 106 farmers in Gungral Chatra, Kallur Naganahalli Kaval and Yalachanahalli villages for a housing project when Devegowda was its chairman between 2007 and 2010. The BJP was then in power.
Farmers complained this year against irregularities in payments. Express published a report about the scam on August 6. The transactions took place in three branches of two banks: Corporation Bank in VV Mohalla, Mysore, and Subedar Chatram Road, Bangalore, and Syndicate Bank in Banimantap, Mysore, where KHB holds accounts.
Sources said that agents opened bank accounts in the name of farmers and deposited the compensation cheques in their accounts.
The middlemen took the signatures of illiterate farmers on self-cheques, drew the full amount and handed over only a part of it to the farmers.
“The investigation reveals that in one case Rs 1.09 crore was withdrawn on September 14, 2009. There are numerous such transactions. How can an innocent and illiterate farmer withdraw more than a crore in a day?” said a Lokayukta source.
Following a petition by the aggrieved farmers to the principal secretary of the Housing Department, the government asked the Lokayukta to investigate. Upa Lokayukta Subhash B Adi referred the matter to the Lokayukta police in Mysore.
When contacted, Adi said more than 50 per cent of the farmers had been cheated as they were given just Rs 7-12 lakh an acre as against the actual compensation of Rs 36.50 lakh fixed by the KHB.
Adi said a majority of the farmers were illiterate. “The role of then KHB chairman G T Devegowda needs to be probed.
Bank managers themselves introduced farmers to their bank while opening accounts. It showed their involvement also,” he said.
Adi said the farmers had no knowledge of bank accounts or transactions. They were taken to banks in different places despite branches being located in their villages or surrounding villages. “We will file a criminal complaint against all the 46 indicted in the report,” he said.
‘It is a Conspiracy’
When contacted, Devegowda said no farmer had filed a complaint against them, and termed the allegations “a conspiracy”. “My son was in London when the land was acquired. I extend my support to the Lokayukta for a transparent investigation. I have discharged my duty sincerely,” he said.