BENGALURU: The powers that be within the State Government and the Revenue Minister himself cannot control the land mafia that is encroaching government property in Bengaluru. Punitive action too does not work against errant and corrupt Revenue Department officials, who collude with unscrupulous real estate players, admitted Revenue Minister R Ashoka on the floor of the Assembly on Tuesday.“We suspend officials for allowing a builder to construct buildings on government land. But they are back in the department in no time,” he said, replying to Assembly members, who pointed to many illegal layouts coming up in and around Bengaluru.
BJP MLA Goolihatti Shekar said that a layout was developed without documents at Hulimangala village near Anekal taluk and 41 sites were developed and sold. “Special deputy commissioners at the Revenue Department are more powerful than the Chief Secretary,” he mocked. JDS MLA AT Ramaswamy, who has presented a lengthy report on illegal encroachments in the city, too said that the land has been converted illegally at that spot. The government does not have any records, but the land has been converted as builders have colluded with officials, he added.
Responding, Ashoka, one of the most powerful ministers in the Yediyurappa cabinet, said that his hands are tied. “A builder has constructed a multi-storeyed apartment on a government land, which is worth `160 crore, at KR Puram. The company even started selling the flats. When I came to know about it, I suspended officials involved. But within four hours, they approached the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal, got a stay and were back in their chairs. I then ordered their transfer to Tumakuru. But they were back within days,” he said.
Many govt lands encroached upon: Minister
“When I was in the Opposition, I had raised this issue a number of times in the Assembly. But when I sit in this place as a minister, I realise that it is very difficult to tackle them. They are so powerful,’’ Revenue Minister R Ashoka said. Many such government lands, including lakes and water bodies, are encroached and apartments built. “After directions from the Government, deputy commissioners clear encroachments and put up boards declaring that the property belongs to the government. But the next day, the board disappears and encroachers squat back,” he added.