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‘Ministers' Trusts got land for a pittance'

Author:  Special Correspondent
Publication: The Hindu
Date: April 5, 2012
URL: http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/article3281771.ece

BJP leaks report as its demand to table it in House fails

 The BJP on Wednesday leaked a copy of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) which exposed irregularities in land allotment in Maharashtra, favouring some Ministers and their relatives. The party members leaked the report after their repeated demands in the Assembly to table the same met with little success.

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Eknath Khadse said copies of the report were with the government and it was not tabling it. The Speaker was asked to give a ruling on the matter.

The report exposed land allotment to the Trusts run by Ministers in the State and one Union Minister. Mr. Khadse said at least 10 Ministers must take the blame for irregular land allotment directly or indirectly.

The former Chief Minister and now Union Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh's Manjra Charitable Trust was allotted 23,840 square metres at Borivali, Mumbai, at concessional rates for a dental college, by charging only 50 per cent of the market value. The Trust paid Rs 6.56 crore as occupancy price and got possession of land in 2006. The CAG report noted that the Collector, while allotting the land, did not mention the mandatory condition regarding completion of the entire work within two years. There was no dental college even four years later, and the Trust, in an April 2011 letter, requested the Collector to alter the purpose of use of land from dental college to “educational activity” as it was not in a position to start the college. The government did not enforce the mandatory clause and lost money — the prevailing market rate of the land was Rs. 30.37 crore, the report pointed out.

Public Works Department Minister Chhagan Bhujbal‘s nephew Samir Bhujbal, MP, a trustee of the Mumbai Education Trust (MET), is among those mentioned in the report. Land measuring 41,300 sq metres in Mauja-Goverdhan, Nashik, was allotted to MET after changing the purpose of reservation from mining activity to education at an occupancy price of Rs 1.55 lakh. This land was part of the 91,300 sq metres reserved for extraction of minor minerals by the PWD. Mr. Samir Bhujbal applied for the balance land measuring 50,000 sq metres for expansion of an engineering and technical college and in 2009 the government granted the same at a price of Rs. 7.53 lakh, after changing the purpose of reservation.

The total market value of the land is Rs. 9.39 crore as per ‘Ready Reckoner 2008' but it was given to MET at Rs. 9.08 lakh. It was also pointed out that the land was lying unutilised.

The report points out many irregularities in the allotment of land for housing, education purposes, undue benefit to occupants of land and non-recovery of premium of Rs. 17.30 crore and irregular grant of development rights.
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