Lokayukta moves against Deve Gowda, 3 ex-CMs

Bangalore: A complaint was today filed in the Lokayukta court against four former Karnataka chief ministers, including former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, for alleged irregularities in the Bangalore-Mysore expressway project.

The complaint has also named former chief ministers N Dharam Singh and B S Yeddyurappa among the 102 people including Ashok Kheny, Managing Director of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise, which was awarded the project, former Law Secretary and sitting state high court judge H S Kempanna and 57 IAS officials.

Making his preliminary submission before Lokayukta judge N K Sudhindra Rao, complainant and social activist T J Abraham alleged that in 1995, when Deve Gowda was the chief minister, a MoU was entered into between the state government and a consortium which included Kheny for construction of a road of international standard between Bangalore and Mysore.

As per a framework agreement signed subsequently, the consortium was ready to invest Rs 522 crore for the about Rs 1,500 crore project while the remaining amount was to be raised through loans. However, Abraham claimed, the consortium was unable to pay the initial deposit of Rs 10 crore to Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) for the proposed acquisition of land for the project.

He submitted that 1,931 acres was allotted on lease for Rs 10 per acre. Immediately, the land was mortgaged with ICICI bank for a loan of Rs 150 crore out of which Rs 10 crore was paid to KIADB in 2003. By then, the acquisition of lands notified had gone up to over 4,500 acres in Bangalore alone. Out of the 4,500 acres, 1,931 acres was government land and the rest was land belonging to farmers.

KIADB which acquired the private land for the project, transferred the same to NICE through sale deeds, Abraham submitted. "Kheny therefore allegedly got 4,500 acres of land transferred in the name of his company without investing a single rupee from his pocket," he charged. For the entire lands belonging to farmers which were notified in 1997, the KIADB is paying a compensation of Rs 6 lakh per acre as per the market rate that existed in 1997, whereas NICE was now selling the same land at Rs 3.5 crore per acre, Abraham alleged.

He prayed the court to issue interim order attaching the bank accounts and properties of Kheny, NICE and two others and take cognisance of the offences against the 102 persons and deal with them in accordance with law.

The complainant sought action under various sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act for criminal conspiracy, fraud, dishonest misappropriation and criminal breach of trust among other offences. He has also named Opposition Congress leader Siddaramaiah, former ministers D K Shivakumar, R V Deshpande and PWD Minister C M Udasi among the 102 people.

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