Bangalore Real Estate, Apartment Complexes, IT Infrastructure, Land Rows And All That
First, it was Electronics City, Whitefield and Sarjapur Road and now the attention has shifted to Hebbal conveniently located in North Bangalore on the way to Kempegowda International Airport. Land prices have risen 20% in the surroundings of Manyata Tech Park with the multinational companies and one lakh employees. More is fated to happen in the surroundings of the airport at Devanahalli after the aerospace and the IT park boom.
Yet land transactions come at a dirty price with several long standing disputes that seem to have no ending. The Brigade Group is one such real estate giant caught up in the Whitefield land dispute.
What is the background? Karnataka Home Minister KJ George has some role to play because a company linked to him sold the land upon which Brigade Group is building the White Meadows Housing Project. The disputed property extends to 3.23 acres at Pattandur Agrahara near Whitefield. Another name must be mentioned, Jitendra Virwani of the Embassy group. This real estate big fish is worth $2 billion, according to Forbes.
In 2006 the property was leased to Joy Ice Creams and was illegally sold to the Prestige group, it is alleged by the state. Certain conditions were imposed upon Joy and they did not have the right to resell the property. Joy does not exist any longer.
Both George and Virwani were shareholders in the company that carried out the deal, Wildflower Estate & Resorts, but the case concerned Joy Ice Creams. The argument is that the property should have returned to the authorities if Joy could not fulfill the lease agreement. Now the authorities want to bet the property back from Prestige group since the sale was not lawful.
The Karnataka government has recently taken up the issue of illegal properties very sternly to curb the menace that ails the city of Bangalore and elsewhere. Too many land mafias have sprung up and illegal encroachments on lake beds, for instance have become very common. Yet nobody seems to be concerned with the plight of the common man who is suddenly uprooted after decades of peaceful living on property purchased with a lifetime savings.
Prestige Group certainly does not wish to surrender its claims with the ongoing construction of which Rs 125 crores was spent, they say. The value of the land may be Rs. 140 crores at Rs. 10,000 per square foot. Prestige Group is studying legal options and calls the action unjustified and unlawful. Which side is on the right is a question difficult to decipher. One grievance is that no notice period was given regarding the land recovery. The status quo was imposed.
Karnataka High Court via Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri in response to the petition has asked the authorities to reconsider the case of recovery. The government order taking over the land was cancelled because no notice was given. June 12 is the date now fixed for hearing the case afresh. Within two weeks after that date the judgment is expected. The state maintains that the leased land to Joy passed on to Prestige Group against the law.