A social activist TJ Abraham had filed a complaint with the Lokayukta court, alleging that in 1995 when Deve Gowda was serving as Karnataka Chief Minister the state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the consortium named Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) for the construction of the expressway but did not even bother to see if NICE was financially capable of undertaking the project.
According to the complainant, land was acquired from farmers for the expressway and 1,913 acres of government land was also given on lease to the consortium. For the 30 year-lease, NICE was supposed to just pay Rs 10/acre per year.
Abraham said that since the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) had to be paid Rs 10 crore in all, the consortium mortgaged the aforementioned 1,913 acres with the ICICI Bank for a sum of Rs 150 crore.
Though only 20,193 acres of land were to be acquired for the expressway and the Peripheral Road as per the MoU, the complainant pointed out that after the state government appointed the consortium's managing director Ashok Kheny on the board of the newly-formed Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Area Planning Authority (BMICAPA), he and a Congress leader DK Shivakumar surprisingly decided to acquire 1.75 lakh acres for the project.
Subsequently, during SM Krishna's tenure as the Chief Minister, NICE was illegally exempted from payment of stamp duty on the first sale of land to the consortium.
"This was a fraudulent excuse used deliberately to cause a specific loss of Rs 56 crore to the state exchequer. No builder or land developer has been extended or given this kind of benefit in the state till date for the development of a township for private financial aggrandisement," the complainant said.
Taking note of Abraham's complaint, Judge NK Sudhindra Rao yesterday ordered the Lokayukta Additional Director General of Police HNS Rao to conduct a probe against Deve Gowda, Ashok Kheny, NICE director Baba Kalyani, DK Shivakumar and his party colleague RV Deshpande.
SM Krishna and another former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa will also be under the scanner. At least four DSPs will be part of the investigation team, the judge stressed.
The entire toll collected by the consortium in the past two years will be attached, the court ordered. Two buildings, owned by NICE, are to be attached too.