The Karnataka Cabinet on May 27 put on hold its decision to sell 3,667 acres of land to JSW Steel Ltd in Ballari following widespread opposition, including from some MLAs of the ruling BJP.
"We had taken a decision in the previous Cabinet (to sell the land). The decision is now on hold as it was not confirmed in this Cabinet meeting," a report in The Deccan Herald quoted law and parliamentary affairs minister Basavaraj Bommai said.
Earlier this month, at least four BJP legislators wrote a letter to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, demanding a rollback of the government’s decision to sell the land.
A report in India Today said, the letter, signed by Basangouda Yatnal, Arvind Bellad, K Poornima, Uday Garudachar, read, "The decision to execute the absolute sale deed in the cabinet meeting held on Date:26/04/2021 has come as a shock to all the legislators. The decision of the state cabinet, in fact, humiliates the protest taken up by all the BJP karyakartas and legislators. Many of the ministers and legislators are not in approval of the said decision of the state government.....The very issue of corruption, for which the entire BJP state unit had fought under your leadership is being approved by you as chief minister is mocking the very fight."
Expressing his displeasure with the state government's decision, former minister and BJP MLC AH Vishwanath asked, “Why should anyone give land to a businessman at a throwaway price of Rs 1.7 lakh per acre, as per the year 1995 guidelines, when the market value is Rs 70 lakh per acre?”
Three years ago, facing stiff opposition, industries minister KJ George had requested the then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, who was heading a JD (S)-Congress coalition government, to set up a cabinet sub-committee to look into the deal.
At the time, the cabinet decided to convert the lease of 3,667 acres to JSW Steel at Ballari into sale in accordance with the initial agreement.Apart from BJP leaders, senior Congress leader HK Patil wrote two letters to the Kumaraswamy government in 2019 opposing the deal, saying it was priced too low.