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Write off Bangalore-Mysore expressway project, say NGOs

Our Bureau

Bangalore , Jan. 9

THREE non-governmental organisations have urged the State Government to write off the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMICP) for irregularities in the project and on legal and social grounds.

The project involving the Pune-based Kalyani group has been facing opposition from local and environmental groups since its conception in 1994.

The core issues are the massive displacement by the project involving 21,000 acres in the Bangalore-Mysore region and the abuse of State power in supporting and granting various approvals to the expressway-cum township project, according to the signatories from three NGOs — Mr Leo Saldanha, Coordinator of the Environment Support Group, Maj. Gen S.G.Vombatkere, Convener, Mysore Grahakara Parishat, and Prof Ramdas, Convener, PUCL-Mysore.

Most of the land is privately held and the State Government had in November last initiated land acquisition for phase 1 — including a 60-odd peripheral and link road — near Bangalore through Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board.

"Core issues have been completely side-stepped. There is no clear account of how many hundreds of families will suffer loss of livelihood due to dis-possession of land for the BMICP." The lands under acquisition are widely irrigated and fertile lands that support livelihood of over two lakh people, they said in a release here.

The Rs 2,000-crore project was conceived as 111-km toll expressway dotted with five townships along the way. It was to be originally to be implemented by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises, a consortium including the Kalyani group, Boston-based VHB and another US-based company, SAB Engineering. In June 2002, the State Government allowed NICE to assign its rights to a special purpose company, NECEL (Nandi Economic Corridor Enterprises Ltd).

They said NECEL was listed as a defaulting company by the Registrar of Companies. In the case of cancelling the project, the Government has also agreed to rely on the certification of the lender — in this case ICICI Bank — in the termination price to be paid. The former ICICI Chairman, Mr N.Vaghul, is on the NICE board. "The government has also drawn upon itself the onus of project default," the release said.

The release said the conditional environmental clearance for the expressway was not met and also questioned the waiver of town planning cess and other relief amounting to Rs 58 crore and the amount would increase in subsequent stages if the government continues to support the project.

Meanwhile, Mr Ashok Kheny, NICE MD, said NECEL is a wholly-owned subsidiary and SPV in charge of phase 1 of the project. It was incorporated in April 2001 and has filed its returns up to 2002-03 and is not a defaulter.

More Stories on : Infrastructure | Karnataka | Roadways

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