With rentals soaring over a lakh of rupees a month in Mysore's star commercial centre, Devaraj Urs Road, property value touching as high as a crore in a cross road behind it, and land prices showing no signs of receding, land scams and mafia operations have reared their ugly heads in Mysore.
This has even led to the murder of two persons over a land issue a few days ago.
A pensioner's paradise, just 2-3 decades ago, Mysore saw the potential of property development thereafter, when it began to witness signs of growth and Bangalore turned into an attractive destination for technology companies.
Shrewd investors began buying land at rock-bottom rates from gullible farmers in and around Mysore. Deals included bulk revenue lands with no proper clearances. Farmers were paid advances, but the signed documents were not registered. When the land value rose, from a couple of thousands to a few lakhs, they sold the lands, which were not in their names. The land sharks lined their pockets with black money, at the farmers' cost.
Some land developers were more enterprising. They went through the land conversion process, greasing the palms of the realtor-friendly officials, converted the lands into sites and made a fortune. Housing co-operative societies also mushroomed and some of them ditched the applicants after misusing their funds.
While the hapless aspirants lost their site deposits, a few of them went to the consumer courts, won cases and managed to get back their money. The Consumer Forum even ordered the arrest of some office-bearers of such defaulting societies in a case or two.
These land deals, a large number of them shady, has expanded the city's limits beyond expectations. No land is available within the ring road today and beyond its eight kilometre periphery, the rates are high and are often in the hands of such land sharks or agents.
Demand for land on the western parts of Mysore is high, with the image of Infosys boosting the land value and demand for sites. Rates in this part are higher than in other parts and development is happening beyond the 15-18 km radius. It is here in places like Thonachikoppal, Bogadi, Hebbal and Hunsur Road that the land mafia is 'busy', though working under cover. There are influential land developers who are holding bulk lands.
A police officer, who did not wish to be identified, remarked, "The mafia and land grabbers' operation is as much as in Bangalore. They are very intelligent. They keep their operations under cover, avoiding incidents as seen in Bangalore."
Except for some minor brawls, there was no major incident until recently, when a double murder occurred involving a Congress corporator. In the incident on the night of May 14, Rajesh and Ramu were hacked to death and two others were injured when a group led by one 'Avva' Madesh attacked them in a farm house, on the outskirts of Hunsur town.
Madesh and seven of his accomplices are in judicial custody now.
"This is the only major incident relating to a land issue that has occurred so far in Mysore. Land mafia has not been able to operate as in Bangalore because the police are vigilant here," said deputy commissioner of police (law & order) D'Souza.
He added that the police were ready to invoke the provisions of the Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act, 2000, to put down the real estate mafia.