Times of India: Bangalore: Wednesday, March 12, 2014.
A three-floor building on a civic amenity site allotted to a trust owned by self-styled religious preacher Asaram Bapu in Banashankari is mired in controversy for deviating from its lease-agreement condition.
The 585-square-metre site No. 15/B in Banashankari flouts several rules, according to an RTI revelation.
"First of all, the Asaram trust had sub-leased the property to its sister concern, Mahila Utthan Trust, to run an ayurvedic hospital and dispensary, thus deviating from social service to commercial activities. The hospital employs a doctor, who does not possess licence from the local Ayush authorities. It also has no trade licence from the BBMP, which is mandatory," said Sai Datta, an RTI activist from Banashankari.
Documents with TOI trace how the controversial godman got the allotment. The trust had in 2004 made a representation to then chief minister N Dharam Singh seeking allotment of a suitable civic amenity (CA) site in Bangalore city limits. Singh had his chief secretary SV Ranganath and then BDA commissioner MN Vidyashankar allot the CA site to the trust on September 22, 2004.
Documents revealed that the possession certificate was granted by BDA on January 29, 2005 for a lease period of 30 years. Later the BDA got the land registered on January 27, 2005 with the trust, using the general power of attorney of the trust's secretary Rajiv Yadav for Rs 12,29,508.
Following the RTI query, the BDA commissioner ordered the BDA Task Force to conduct an inquiry. "The task force is finalizing a report on the activities of the trust which is running an ayurvedic hospital without offering free service," said a BDA source.
Datta said it was strange that the state government did not follow up on the trust's activities when the trust head was facing serious charges of rape.
Civic amenity sites are meant for public use and welfare activities and never for commercial purposes. But the BDA has never been known to adhere to these conditions. Often the authority has been in the dock for the arbitrary manner in which it allots sites, be they civic amenity or other prime ones, to all and sundry. That these are done at the behest of political and bureaucratic masters is no secret. Lack of transpar8ency in its dealings is the reason why scam after scam haunts the BDA. If the authority doesn't set its house in order, development in Bangalore will continue to be skewed.