Bangalore: Despite the arrest of former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and several ministers in his cabinet after allegations of illegally 'denotifying' land in Bangalore, a sting operation by NDTV reveals the land scam, known to be the biggest in the country, is only getting bigger and murkier. Corrupt government officers are believed to be involved in selling off the little available 'government notified land' to an unaware public. Government notified land is when the government identifies land and marks it for developmental projects - that land is known as notified. Yeddyurappa and several ministers in his cabinet are alleged to have illegally denotified many parts of such land.
But the land scam doesn't stop with politicians. In fact, sources in the revenue department reveal that nearly 1,275 acres of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) land at prime locations in Bangalore has been illegally encroached upon. Though the BDA which is meant to keep a check on such activities refused to comment, real estate agents in the city say, officials in the lower and senior most levels are involved. Says Farook Mahmood, founder, National Association of Realtors: ''Things happen at a cost at a registrar's office. I won't say more than that. Whoever is to buy something, let the due diligence be done first or it can be disastrous."
The fact that this land is registered by the government, makes a buyer believe his property is legal. If and when there is a crackdown - it becomes a battle between the buyer and the courts. The registrars' who made money over the deal are out of the picture. However, when approached officials deny such a fraud is occuring. Says Ramakanth, Deputy Commissioner, Revenue in Bangalore: 'We don't entertain, we reject such applicants who want to buy notified land. We ask them to get an NOC from the BDA. "
But an NDTV investigation proves that this is not the case. Armed with a set of documents of a piece of land belonging to government notified, Arkavathy layout in Bangalore, this NDTV reporter headed to the Krishnarajapuram Sub-registrar office. Posing as an unauthorized broker, the reporter asked the sub-registrar if he could help with the process of registration. Instead of refusing, the sub-registrar began to negotiate for a bribe. The transcript of the conversation - caught on hidden camera - went like this:
Sub Registrar: Records are not ok.
NDTV: But so many registrations like these take place in Bangalore.
Sub Registrar: They all take money.
NDTV: How much sir?
Sub Registrar: Ok, you reduce your burden. Rs 10,000 is my fee. Rs 1,000 for my staff.
NDTV: Ok Sir, I will come next week for registration
According to preliminary investigative reports by the Lokayukta, the land scam has already cost the Karnataka exchequer a loss of over Rs 350 crore. If this aspect of selling off notified land is taken into account, then it is estimated that another 250 crore rupees can be added to the loss.