Siddaramaiah has ‘land’ed in a controversy: Unpacking the MUDA row that is rocking Karnataka

Land scams and corruption have long plagued Karnataka’s politics, and fresh allegation has brought the issue to the forefront once again.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jul 11, 2024 | 5:01 PM Updated Jul 11, 2024 | 5:05 PM

Karnataka #AsnwerMadiModi CM Siddaramaiah BJP Narendra Modi

Land scams and corruption have long plagued Karnataka’s politics, and a fresh expose has brought the issue to the forefront once again. This time, the allegations hit close to home, implicating Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s family in a dubious land deal.

As Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah is engulfed in an alleged scam of Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA), the opposition BJP is demanding a CBI probe and planning to stage a massive protest in Mysuru on 12 July.

For the last six months, the Karnataka government is embroiled in several allegations of scams including ₹187 crore scandal in the Karnataka Maharshi Valmiki Scheduled Tribe Development Corporation (KMVSTDC) Ltd and now the MUDA scam.

Mysuru’s RTI activist Gangaraju has exposed the alleged illegal allotment of 14 plots, in a prime space, by the MUDA to the Chief Minister’s family in 2022. Apart from this, there are also allegations of several such irregularities in the MUDA.

The irregularities are estimated anywhere around ₹5,000 crore. Not only the opposition, but also civil society groups in Mysuru are demanding for the thorough investigation of the alleged land scam in the MUDA.

Meanwhile, the BJP leaders are up in arms against Siddaramaiah’s family over alleged irregularities pertaining to creating fake documents and claiming compensation from the MUDA, with using muscle and money power.

However, Siddaramaiah continued to deny the allegations and reiterated that his family had adhered to the norms and got the lands from MUDA.

Following the pressure from the opposition and civil society groups, the Chief Minister has set-up a special team, led by two senior IAS officers, to probe the allegations. He refused to handover the investigation to the CBI.

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What is the “MUDA Scam”

RTI activist Gangaraju’s revelations have sparked outrage and demands for accountability, casting a shadow on the CM’s tenure and raising questions about his integrity.

Gangaraju told South First: “The tale of CM Siddaramaiah family’s irregularities pertaining to the MUDA dates back to early 1990s. In 1992, the MUDA notified 130 acres to develop a layout in Devanuru 3rd stage, which also includes part of Kesari village, in Mysuru.”

In 1996-97, the MUDA adhering to the procedures issued preliminary notice and after 15 days awarded final notice and also called for objection over layout development from the land holders.

After two years, following no objections filed on the proposal, the MUDA awarded 130 acres layout development work to L&T. The project was approved from the Karnataka government as well.

He further said: “The MUDA developed sites in survey no 462 and 464 as well. In 1998, the government denotified the lands without taking any opinion of the MUDA.” Incidentally, JH Patel was the Chief Minister during this period leading a Janata Dal government and Siddaramaiah was his Deputy.

“The land owners of survey no 462 submitted the notification copy to MUDA and carried out further procedures.”

“Whereas there are no records of either the current Chief Minister or the then land owner of survey no 464 submitting notification copy, which is mandatory, to the MUDA till 2004,” Gangaraju added that land owner of the survey no 464 did not follow any procedures.

He continued: “After the L&T finished layout development works in 2003. As per the MUDA records, a total of 19 sites were developed in survey number 464. The authorities sold the sites to the people until 2007.”

“There were no objections from the land holders of survey no 464. They neither questioned on developing sites nor selling them over a decade from 2003,” he added.

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Siddaramaiah’s family purchases 3.16 acres in 2004

Siddaramaiah’s brother-in-law Mallikarjun Swamy purchased 3.16 acres of land— survey no 464— in Kesari village at Kasaba Hobballi in Mysuru in 2004.

Gangaraju pointed out: “Mallikarjun Swamy purchased the land from Linga aka Jawara’s son J Devaraju in Kesari. While doing the RTC, it was falsely mentioned in the title deed that it is agricultural land.”

“As per the guidelines, the Revenue Department officials must visit the site and then take off with further official procedures. None of the officials concerned including Revenue Inspector and Village Accountant did carry out any spot inspection,” alleged the RTI activist.

“Interestingly, even before the Chief Minister’s brother-in-law purchased this land, the MUDA had not only developed sites but had also sold several plots to the people.”

In 2004-05, Siddaramaiah’s brother-in-law applied for the land conversion from agriculture to residential. “Even in this case, the officials like survey officer, village accountant, revenue inspector, tahsildar and deputy commissioner did not conduct any spot inspection, which is mandatory as per the laws,” the RTI activist pointed out the faults of the Mysuru district officials.

He added: “In 2004-05, the then Mysuru DC and other officers gave false report to pave the way for the conversion of the 3.16 acres land survey no 464.”

The MUDA had already developed sites, with providing basic amenities including electricity and water supply before 2004-05 itself in this residential land. There was no recorded business pertaining to this with any of the office in the MUDA until 2010.

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Mallikarjun Swamy gifts 3.16 acres to CM’s wife in 2010

In a further turn, Mallikarjun Swamy gifted the land to his sister BM Parvathi, the wife of CM Siddaramaiah, in 2010.

Gangaraju said: “It is important to note that in the gift deed it was mentioned as agricultural land.”

“In reality, the said 3.16 acres of land was already developed into layouts. There were no applications from either CM’s wife or his brother-in-law seeking compensation for the alleged encroachment of 3.16 acres by MUDA till 2014,” he added.

“In 2014, CM’s wife sought compensation alleging that MUDA has encroached their 3.16 acres of agriculture land.”

He continued: “In 2014, CM Siddaramaiah introduced 50:50 formula for developing layout. As per this formula, after the authority/housing board develops plots, those will be shared equally (50:50) between the local urban development authority and the land holder.”

Siddaramaiah’s family demanded 100 percent compensation for the encroached land in the initial stages. After several negotiations, it was agreed for 50:50 formula. Thereafter, again there was no business till 2021.

He further said: “In 2020, the MUDA illegally passed a resolution on 50:50 formula pertaining to development of layout. The mere discussion in the meeting was passed as a resolution.”

“As per the norms, the 50:50 formula is applicable only for newly developed layout and not for old layouts. Though the sites were developed in survey no 464 in 2003, the MUDA compensated the CM’s family with plots,” he added.

CM’s wife was allotted 14 sites in prime space

In a bid to compensate Siddaramaiah’s wife Parvati for the encroached land, the MUDA allocated 14 sites in prime space in the Mysuru City in 2022.

Gangaraju said: “In 2022, flouting all guidelines, the MUDA compensated with just over 37,000 sqft, totaling 14 sites, in Vijayanagara 3rd and 4th stage. MUDA compensated excess 1,200 sqft to the Chief Minister’s wife,” he added.

He further said: “In Devanur and Kesari villages, the current guidance value stands at Rs 2,000 per sqft, whereas it was priced at whopping Rs 9,000 to Rs 10,000 per sqft in Vijayangara.”

“As per the rule, the MUDA has to compensate the land losers with sites that were developed in the same year and has same value that of the encroached land. The officials yet again failed to adhere to the rules and gave away the sites,” he added.

He alleged: “Every document from Mallikarjun Swamy purchasing 3.16 acres land to conversion of land to compensation has been forged in this case.”

“Mysuru’s former DC KV Rajendra, ascertaining irregularities pertaining to this 3.16 acres and others, has served 16 notices to the MUDA commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner never received any reply from the MUDA office.”

“It is not only the Chief Minister’s family but also several influential politicians including sitting legislators, cutting across the party lines, have carried out similar irregularities in the MUDA,” elaborated Gangaraju.

Siddaramaiah’s vehement denial of any wrongdoing

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has, however, repeatedly denied any scam or irregularity in the process. He has also refused to entertain demands for a CBI inquiry by the BJP. The MUDA row is expected to make the upcoming assembly session a stormy one.

Siddaramaiah on Thursday alleged that he was unnecessarily being targeted in the case of alleged fraudulent allotment of sites by MUDA. Siddaramaiah played the caste card in his defence.

He said, a conspiracy is being hatched against him as he belongs to a backward class community and has become the chief minister for a second time.

“Since Siddaramaiah, who is from the backward class, has become the chief minister for the second time, people are jealous, so conspiracy is being hatched. I dom’t fear such conspiracies, he said.

(Edited By N Venugopal)

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