Land cases turn into political weapons

With the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) filing two more cases against former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, the shadow of  denotification politics looms large on the political canvas in the state again

Published: 04th September 2017 01:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2017 07:35 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: With the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) filing two more cases against former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, the shadow of  denotification politics looms large on the political canvas in the state again. Irregularities in land acquisition has haunted many leaders of different parties over the last two decades – right from S M Krishna to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
The controversies stretch from Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) residential projects including Sir M Visvesvaraya, Arkavathy, Shivaram Karanth Layouts, in the IT hub Whitefiled to industrial areas including Peenya involving thousands of acres.

Government sources said the extent of land denotification under the scanner is – 110 acres during Dharam Singh’s regime, 266 acres during H D Kumaraswamy’s tenure, 259 acres during B S Yeddyurappa’s regime and 541 acres (in Arkavathy Layout) during Siddaramaiah’s tenure. Also, questions have been raised over denotification of 124 acres of land between November 2007 and May 2008 when Karnataka was under President’s rule. As for denotification during S M Krishna’s time, in 2010, the then CM Yeddyurappa had claimed that 633 acres were denotified, but Krishna strongly denied the allegation.

The issue threatens to derail Yeddyurappa’s plans of another shot at the CM’s post ahead of the Assembly election in the state. The state BJP president is staring at tough days ahead as, apart from the two latest FIRs  registered with ACB over land denotifications in the now abandoned Shivarama Karanth Layout project of BDA, the Supreme Court has agreed to  hear 15 denotification cases which were earlier quashed by the Karnataka High Court. The Siddaramaiah government has challenged the High Court order.  The apex court is expected to hear arguments from the third week of September.

The tit-for-tat politics being played out in the state is threatening to turn ugly as the Assembly polls approach. The series of Income Tax raids on the residences of Co-operation minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, State Mahila Congress president Lakshmi Hebbalkar, MLA M T B Nagaraj and Energy minister D K Shivakumar have had state Congress leaders crying foul,  accusing the Narendra Modi government of a political witchhunt by “misusing the IT Department, Enforcement Directorate and CBI.” Pointing to a clear pattern, Shivakumar’s brother D K Suresh says, “Now, the IT department  is being misused to target even those who are closely associated with  Shivakumar.” He expressed displeasure over the raids conducted on the premises of KPCC secretary Vijay Mulgund and former IAS officer Sridhar.  
As apprehensions of more raids on those associated with  Shivakumar spreading, Varaprasad Reddy, KPCC general secretary and  another close confidante of Shivakumar, joined BJP. The shift in loyalty  is being seen as an effect of the IT raids on  Shivakumar and his associates.

However Shivakumar remains defiant in the face of all the troubles. “We too have a few Brahmastras (destructive weapons) which we will use against our rivals. I  am a fighter and I will not run away from the battlefield,” Shivakumar said, dropping clear hints of hitting back at BJP.
Incidentally, the two fresh cases against Yeddyurappa came just four days after the IT raids on Shivakumar. The cases relate to alleged denotification of land to the extent of 257 acres illegally by misusing his powers to help land owners. As Yeddyurappa faces the possibility of arrest, it may deal a huge blow to BJP’s prospects in the coming Assembly  election. It may be recalled that the Congress padayatra, led by Siddaramaiah from Bengaluru to Ballari against the mining and land scams of the Yeddyurappa government, had catapulted the party to power in the 2013 Assembly election. The BJP state chief sees a conspiracy by Siddaramaiah to finish him politically. The CM himself managed to get a clean chit for himself recently from the Justice Kempanna Commission which probed charges of illegal denotification to the extent of 541 acres in Arkavathy Layout.

“Denotification is a routine practice during all regimes -- from S M Krishna to Siddaramaiah. While the probes into the alleged denotification cases were conducted by the Lokayukta, headed by a retired Supreme Court or  High Court judge, the ACB, which is now investigating the cases is a special purpose vehicle of the Siddaramaiah government to fix political opponents,” Yeddyurappa said, explaining his opposition to cases filed by the ACB.

How does the process work?

Denotification  is a process of dropping some pockets of land from acquisition process for development projects like roads, layouts, etc., by the government after issuing preliminary notifications for acquisition. The denotified land is free to be used or sold by the owner. The emergence of Bengaluru as a global  IT hub has led to huge demand for housing and commercial spaces like malls and amusement parks, raising the demand for land. The lobbying for denotification, which has triggered many a land scams in the state, is due to the fact that the value of the land in and around the area notified for major development works suddenly shoots up after the notification. The rise in value is humongous if it is being acquired for BDA layouts. The real estate and builder lobbies step in to exploit vulnerable farmers by purchasing land from them and then getting the land denotified using their clout. They may even step in as proxies for the farmers to get the land denotified with a promise that it will then be sold to them (developers) for development of  commercial complexes or residential complexes.


Shivaram Karanth Layout: 257 acres
Allegation against: B S Yeddyurappa
Complainant: Aiyappa, Social worker;
Status: FIR registered by Anti Corruption Bureau

Benniganahalli: 4.2 acres
Allegations against:
D K Shivakumar, Yeddyurappa
Complainant: T J Abraham, social worker
Status: Quashed in Supreme Court

Bilekahalli: 17 guntas
Allegation against: B S Yeddyurappa
Complainant: Jayakumar Hiremath
Status: Quashed in High Court

Halagevaderahali: 5 acres
Allegation against: B S Yeddyurappa
Complainant: Jayakumar Hiremath
Status: Quashed in High Court

J B Kaval: 1 acre
Allegation against: B S Yeddyurappa
Complainant: Jayakumar Hiremath
Status: Quashed in High Court

Thanisandra:  3 acres and eight guntas
Allegation against: H D Kumaraswamy
Complainant: T J Abraham
Status: Quashed in High Court


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