BENGALURU: While politicians keep themselves busy with allegations of land denotification for political gains, small land holders in some BDA layouts are seeking denotification of their land citing wrongful acquisition and are running from pillar to post.
Nanjamma, a native of Jakkur village in Yelahanka hobli of Bangalore North Taluk owned one acre and four guntas (Survey no. 18/6, which was later divided among cousins as Survey nos. 18/6A and 18/6B). Everything went smooth for her until the preliminary notification to acquire her land for Arkavathy Layout was issued in 2003. A final notification was issued in 2004. The BDA had six parameters to exclude land from acquisition -- existing green belt, built-up area, educational and charity institutes, nurseries, factories and those surrounded by other land parcels.
Since most of these lands fall within the parameters, the owners chose to approach the court seeking denotification. Nanjamma’s grandson J N Kiran (who is fighting the BDA) moved the High Court in 2006 with a writ petition on behalf of his grandmother (WP 9064/ 2006) claiming exemption as her piece of land was surrounded by other land holdings. Justice Mohan Shantanagowdar, who heard the petition in August 2006, directed the BDA to re-do the acquisition process and disposed of the batch of petitions. As per the court’s directions, BDA appointed an officer to survey the acquired area again.
Now the owner of the land, Kiran just has a patch of 21 guntas. But to his shock, BDA chose to acquire only his land (Survey no. 18/6A) and denotified all the land of his neighbours under the re-do scheme. Kiran’s small patch is just 25 feet wide and 600 feet long and adjoins Jakkur lake. Interestingly, BDA excluded another portion of the land (Survey no. 18/6B), which was in possession of Kiran’s relative. His repeated request to denotify his land too fell on deaf ears. Interestingly, two successive BDA commissioners, four special land acquisition officers and three special DCs for land acquisition, who visited the spot, had found truth in his contention.
Kiran moved the High Court for justice again in 2014. After two years of hearing, Justice Ram Mohan Reddy on June 30, 2015, directed BDA to place the matter before the board immediately and take an appropriate decision. Despite the court order, BDA took its own time to place the matter before the board until March 23 this year and simply passed on the matter to the state government to take a final call on it.
Narayanappa has a small land holding of 21 guntas in Jakkur village. He too is struggling to get his land denotified on the same grounds as Kiran. Under the re-do scheme following the 2006 High Court order, land parcels around his patch were denotified. Surprisingly, his land was acquired. He has repeatedly requested the BDA authorities to exclude his property, but has not received any positive response.
Pointing out that the BDA engineering department has said that his plot of 21 guntas will be of no use to it as it cannot be developed into a layout, he said that land is all he has. “I can see that only the small land owners like us have been targeted and our properties acquired, while those with large patches of land have the benefit of denotification,” he rued.
What the Apex Court says
The Supreme Court, while hearing a civil appeal (4097/2010) in the Bonde Ramaswamy versus BDA case, directed the Authority to consider denotifying small land holders’ pleas whose land have been surrounded by unacquired land. The order dated May 5, 2016 by the Constitutional bench comprising of then Chief Justice of India Justice K G Balakrishna, Justices R V Raveendran and D K Jain said, “In villages of Venkateshpura, Nagawara, Hennur and Chellakere, small patches of acquired lands are surrounded by lands which are not acquired or which were deleted from proposed acquisition. BDA may consider whether such small pockets should be deleted if they are not suitable for forming self-contained layouts.” The bench added, that it cannot be justified on grounds that the land could be used as a park.