Maha scam rocks Maharaja’s Mysore Urban Development Authority

Though MUDA has allotted sites to many land losers, the allotment of sites to CM Siddaramaiah’s wife Parvathi under the same rule, has come under the scanner.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

MYSURU: The City Improvement Trust Board (CITB) was established by erstwhile Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1904, after the kingdom was hit by the plague. The Mysore government constituted a committee that recommended setting up CITB, with an objective of developing new localities, providing amenities, and developing junctions and parks. CITB, which was renamed Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA), is in the limelight for the wrong reasons, with a series of irregularities compelling the government to transfer officials and order a probe.

More than 85,000 applicants have been waiting for years to realise their dream of owning a site they couldn’t get for various reasons since 2018, but MUDA is accused of giving lakhs of sqft in developed layouts to land losers under 50:50 ratio. Though MUDA has allotted sites to many land losers, the allotment of sites to CM Siddaramaiah’s wife Parvathi under the same rule, has come under the scanner. It started when MUDA found it difficult to acquire land to develop new layouts, and tabled a proposal at a MUDA meeting on September 14, 2020. It resolved to allot sites in 50:50 ratio and non-payment of compensation to landowners who had relinquished their land to develop MUDA layouts.

In November 2023, however, the government nullified this resolution, citing it as being in contravention of established norms, and issued a directive that MUDA cannot make such decisions without a formal government order.

Based on a complaint by PS Nataraj, a Technical Committee constituted by the government found large-scale irregularities. The committee, led by Additional Director of Planning TV Murali, included executive engineer of Mysuru District Urban Development Cell Narasu Kalantre, Town Planning Officer of Shivamogga City Corporation B R Kallinath and Joint Director (Town and Rural Planning) MS Shanthal.

There were allegations that MUDA officials were circumventing rules to allot hundreds of sites under 50:50 ratio to land losers. Instead of allotting sites in the acquired land, sites were allotted in prestigious layouts, and many stray sites or bits of land were also allotted. This led to suspicions of large-scale irregularities running into several crores of rupees, with sites allotted in Vijayanagar, Dattagalli, JP Nagar and RT Nagar.

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Karnataka MLA TS Srivatsa demands SIT probe into MUDA plot allotment irregularities

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner KV Rajendra shot off a series of letters to MUDA Commissioner Dinesh Kumar, seeking a relook at the 50:50 ratio allotment that was struck down by the government. In February 2024, he wrote a letter seeking an explanation, and also wrote to the urban development secretary as the MUDA commissioner didn’t respond. He asked the MUDA commissioner to stop registration, and declared issue of title deeds under 50:50 ratio as illegal. The commissioner did not give any explanation for allocating vacant sites, bits of land, or stray sites to land losers.

MLA Srivatsa sent a letter alleging irregularities in MUDA, and claimed that those who lost land in 1970s were also allotted sites in developed areas. BJP MLC Vishwanath joined Srivasta and alleged that CM’s son Yathindra was involved in the scam. He implicated MUDA Commissioner Dinesh Kumar, MLA K Harish Gowda, former ZP member Rakesh Papanna, MUDA Chairman K Marigowda, former chairman Rajeev, former commissioner Natesh, Maritibbegowda’s relative Sudeep, and other officials.

The issue caught eyeballs after Siddaramaiah’s wife Parvathi was allotted 38,368 sqft in Vijayanagar Stage III for 3.16 acres acquired in Kesare. Many raised doubts whether the land was acquired by MUDA without bringing it to the notice of the land owner. Last Thursday, a three-member team led by IAS officer Venkatachalapathy questioned Dinesh and others over allegations that MUDA had allotted 3,000 sites to land losers under 50:50 ratio, allegedly bypassing regulations.

Following this, Urban Development Minister Byrathi Suresh visited MUDA and issued an order transferring the commissioner and secretary, and ordered the engineers to return to their parent department. The inspection team directed staffers to retrieve all files related to site allocation, besides 140 documents with discrepancies to assess revenue loss.

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Karnataka CM defends MUDA site allocation to wife amid controversy

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