Karnataka's BMIC Project Stuck for 20 Years, Farmers Demand Return of Land

Reported by

Soumik DuttaLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

June 3, 2020

Location of Conflict

Thippur

,

Gonipura, Bidadi, Seegehalli

Mandya

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Other Kind of Infrastructure

Building of roads and satellite townships

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

8172

ha

State

Karnataka

Sector

Infrastructure

In 1995, the Janata Dal-led Karnataka government approved the construction of an expressway to connect Mysuru and Bengaluru, along with the development of a peripheral link road and satellite townships. The entire project was called Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) Project. An MoU was signed with a consortium headed by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) Limited. A Frame Work Agreement (FWA) to implement the project was signed between NICE and the state on April 3, 1997. According to the FWA, a total of 20,193 acres of land have to be handed over to NICE, wherein 6,999 acres are required for toll road and 13,194 acres for townships. Of the 20,193 acres, 6,956 acres are government land and 13,237 acres are private land.
On October 14, 1998, an agreement was signed between NICE and the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) for acquiring land. The same year, KIADB issued notices to farmers for the acquisition of land. However, NICE has till date acquired only 7,000 acres. While the delay in land acquisition can be attributed to protests over what farmers deem unfair compensation for their fertile lands, a large part of the process is embroiled in politics. According to a news report, Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Deve Gowda, who had approved the BMIC Project when he was the chief minister, is now opposing the same project. He has alleged that the present Karnataka government, led by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is acquiring more land than is necessary for the project. However, a news report states that the JD(S) government itself had been accused of allotting more land than necessary for BMIC when it had signed the project framework. Such charges and counter-charges have left the project as well as the fate of the farmers in a limbo. As of March 2019, only a four-kilometre stretch of the expressway, 41 kilometres of the peripheral road and 8.5 kilometres of the link road have been constructed by NICE. There have been inordinate delays in the execution and completion of the project following numerous litigations filed by several farmers, alleging corruption and illegalities in the acquisition process. Meanwhile, the KIADB has till date not withdrawn its notice of land acquisition, leaving the farmers in a state of uncertainty about the status of their lands. In the course of over 20 years, land prices around Bengaluru and Mysuru have also skyrocketed. A report quotes a senior NICE official as saying that farmers were paid about INR 7.5 lakh per acre for land around Mysuru at the start of the decade. The current land price in the area is INR 50-70 lakh per acre, says a property consultant. Farmers estimate the rate to be even higher. "The government is offering just INR 85,000 per acre against the market rate of more than INR 2 crore. This is an insult to us," a farmer told a news daily during a protest. The farmers have demanded denotification of land that was not acquired and fair compensation, based on market price, for notified land that will be acquired. Successive governments have failed to either expedite the project completion or take legal action against the company or cancel the MoU. The House Committee of the state legislature has submitted a report alleging massive corruption and has recommended scrapping of the MoU, along with denotifying the lands and returning them to the farmers. This report is not available in the public domain as yet. Other reports, such as the Environment Impact Assessment and Social Impact Assessment, pertaining to the project are all classified. The state government is now contemplating handing over the case to the CBI for further investigation.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

12000

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

8172

ha

Starting Year

1998

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Urban Development Department, Government of Karnataka

Principal Secretary A. Parvez refused to comment on the issue when contacted by LCW. He said the House Committee has submitted a report and the new BJP government is looking into the matter.

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Environment Support Group

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) Limited

LCW contacted NICE Managing Director Ashok Keney, who refused to comment citing confidentiality of the matter.

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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