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K'taka accuses Nandi of Highway project loss

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Sep 17: The Karnataka government, in response to a writ petition filed by the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE), challenging its decision to set up a judicial commission of inquiry into the Karnataka-Mysore Highway project, has alleged that M/s Nandi was involved in real estate venture in the project which caused a huge loss of Rs 30000 crore to the state exchequer.

According to the counter affidavit filed by the government in the Supreme Court, the NICE, in collusion with some state government officials, was allegedly trying to illegally retain land measuring 2289.7 acres of excess land valued at Rs 30000 crore.

''The land belongs to farmers and weaker sections of rural segments in the state,'' it added.

Accusing the NICE of tampering with official records along with some government officials, who had joined the company after retirement, the government said, ''Setting up a judicial inquiry commission to fix responsibility for the massive fraud does not violate fundamental right of the petitioner.'' The inquiry commission, set up by the Karnataka state government which took charge on July 18, is being headed by retired Chief Justice of Delhi High Court B C Patel.

''In 1999, an order was passed by the then government that the NICE would be given land by that government at a low-rate of Rs 10 per acre per annum for a period of 40 years,'' the state government alleged. The NICE has been given contract for executing the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructural Corridor Project under which toll roads are to be constructed to eliminate congestion of traffic on Banglore-Mysore Express Highway and eight new townships are to be developed.

The Supreme Court had, earlier, imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the state government for indulging in "frivolous" litigation for stalling the project directing it to immediately start work on the project.

The apex court had also pulled up the government for ''derogatory remarks'' made by ruling MLA party in the state assembly during a debate against Supreme Court judges.

The project has run into rough whether with the installation of JD(S)-BJP government in the state headed by H D Kumaraswamy, son of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.

Mr Gowda has also demanded CBI inquiry into the project and cancellation of the contract with the NICE.

The agreement between the state government and the NICE was signed on October 14, 1998 under which the government was to provide land measuring 21000 acres. The total land acquired by the government was 23,846 acres while in addition the NICE demanded 7186 acres of land total land added up to 31032 acres of land.

Earlier, the petitions filed by some MLAs for the CBI inquiry into the alleged scandal were dismissed both by the state High Court and the Supreme Court.

The state government, in its affidavit, has also said that the project and the judicial inquiry could go on side by side.

Praying for the dismissal of the petition, challenging the notification of the government appointing a judicial commission of inquiry into the alleged bungling in the project, the state government has pleaded that the writ petition ''is only an attempt to escape exposure by the petitioner''.

UNI

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