//Expressway firm tried to bribe me: Karnataka CM

Expressway firm tried to bribe me: Karnataka CM

Kumaraswamy says Bangalore-Mysore expressway promoters tried to buy him out and that a journalist had approached him with the offer but he refused

Usman Merchant, MUMBAI MIRROR, Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Monday alleged that the promoters of the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project had offered him bribes to enable them to acquire additional land for the project.

Addressing a press conference, Kumaraswamy said, “Soon after I became the chief minister, the promoters of the project tried to buy me out. A journalist had approached me on their behalf.”

Refusing to name the journalist or spell out the details, Kumaraswamy said he would rather resign from office than sacrifice the lands belonging to farmers, which he claimed Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise(NICE), promoters of BMIC, want to acquire for developing real estate.

The bone of contention between the Karnataka government and NICE is the development of five satellite townships along the 111 km express highway, which together comprise the infrastructure corridor project.

The government claims the MoU for the Rs 2,250 crore project, which was signed in 1995, has been changed over the years by successive governments to allot more land to the promoters for developing the satellite townships. The dispute was taken to the Supreme Court by the NICE where the government's charges were dismissed and the apex court ordered it to pay damages to the promoters for stalling work on the highway.  

Following the SC verdict, the government had contemplated bring in a legislation to take over the entire project but the move was opposed by the BJP which is a partner in the ruling coalition.

GOVT MULLS LAW TO BEAT PROMOTERS

The government is now considering bringing in a legislation to take over what it claims is excess land acquired by the NICE for the purpose of constructing the townships.

Kumaraswamy has also challenged the NICE representatives for a public debate on the project where he said he would expose the company and settle the issue once and for all.  

‘WHERE IS THE NEED TO BRIBE THE GOVT?’

Meanwhile, NICE managing director Ashok Kheny denied Kumaraswamy's allegations saying that after a favourable SC judgment, there was no need for the NICE to curry favour with anyone in the government.

Since the controversy over the BMIC project has surfaced, the government has been facing one embarrassment after another.

Recent reports in a section of the media revealed that Kumaraswamy himself owned about 24 acres of land around the express highway, which unlike the surrounding lands belonging to other farmers, had not been acquired for the project.

Kumaraswamy, however, denied his property fell within the area earmarked for the project and said if anyone could prove to the contrary, he would order acquisition of his land at rates offered to other farmers.