Today housing is out of the reach of not just the lower income group but also the middle class in Bengaluru. Many corrupt politicians and individuals have become wealthy by hijacking the process of allotting housing sites, leaving millions of citizens to suffer. The Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), the agency responsible for allotting sites, has not just failed in delivery, but has also become a den of corruption.
Often even after notifying land to be acquired, the government excludes the properties of powerful politicians and individuals from acquisition. Meanwhile, it offers very little compensation to the others, who are forced to to give up their land.
Many, whose land is notified for acquisition, therefore approach the BDA, pleading that they be denotified complaining that the price offered by it is far below the market rate. Several also approach the courts, which take time to decide in such matters, resulting in huge delays, in some cases of decades, in sites being allotted.
While de-notification is not allowed, it is done in cases of persons with political clout or those willing to pay bribes. Such de-notified land is later sold at the market rate as against the low price offered by the government, allowing the owners to make a windfall.
Although former Chief Minister, B. S. Yeddyurappa, claims he was given a clean chit in various de-notification cases against him, they were in reality dismissed due to procedural lapses and not on account of his proven innocence. And the Congress party has not approached the Supreme court to contest his acquittal, perhaps because one of its senior minister, D K Shivakumar, is involved in one of the cases.
The other scam revolves around alternative sites. Here, during allocation of sites some allottees “erroneously” end up getting non-existent sites or sites meant for roads and public spaces. To make good this mistake, the BDA then offers them "alternative sites" and those with political clout or willing to pay bribes end up getting prime sites in high-end residential areas, which are worth many times the value of the original site promised, as compensation.
Many in the Congress, BJP and JDS have been beneficiaries, and so nobody is willing to correct the situation. The desperation of ordinary people searching for affordable homes is the direct result of these political parties' collusion in "notification" and "de-notification" scams.
Worse, corrupt politicians, in order to protect their investments in land banks in and around Bengaluru, have prevented other cities in our state from developing and growing. There is no other reason why Mysuru, Mangaluru, Belagavi, Dharwad and other towns have not become engines of economic growth by now. Only by voting such parties out of power can we begin to dream of a different, more accountable and more honest future.