A fresh legal battle is brewing in the contentious Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) Project as some of the landowners have now sought a compensation amounting to over Rs. 120 crore from top bureaucrats for “fraudulently” acquiring their land.

As many as 12 landowners from Chikkathoguru village have issued legal notices to the Chief Secretary to the Government and the principal secretaries of the Public Works, Commerce and Industries, and Housing and Urban Development departments. The landowners have claimed that the successive officers, who held these posts, had initiated “fraudulent proceedings” to acquire land that was not part of BMIC as approved by the Karnataka government in its order issued on November 20, 1995, and the project report — documents subsequently upheld by the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court.

In their notices, the landowners have sought a total compensation of Rs. 120 crore from these officials within a week. They have threatened to sue the officials if they fail to pay the compensation and stop land acquisition proceedings within a week. Referring to the courts’ directives to the authorities “to implement the project as originally conceived and as per the judicial verdicts,” the landowners have stated that even the Ministers in-charge of the departments involved in the project implementation will have to face contempt of judicial direction if land at Chikkathoguru and other villages are not excluded from BMICP.

The Ministers, under the Karnataka government (Transaction of Business Rules), 1977, will have to ensure the decisions taken by the Cabinet to implement the project as originally conceived and as per court orders, according to them.
Alignment changed

Based on the documents obtained by them under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (RTI), the landowners have claimed in the notices that the land owned by them was “fraudulently” notified, as their land was not included in the project approved by the government. “Survey numbers of many plots that were identified for BMIC in the project report were substituted with new survey numbers illegally,” they have said.

Inclusion of their land, the landowners argued, has not only put them to hardship, but also resulted in illegal change in the original alignment of the 41-km of Outer Peripheral Road and the 8 km of link road constructed around Bangalore city as part of BMIC. It is not just the land owned by them, but the entire Chikkathoguru village is excluded from the project report, environmental clearance given by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, and the clearance given by the Pollution Control Board, the landowners have pointed out.

Source:The Hindu, March 11, 2009