Eleven trusts from Pune, including trusts for education and community purposes, are under the scanner of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for non-use of land allotted by the government in the stipulated time frame of two years.
A detailed report has been sought from the district administration to be submitted by the revenue secretary to the CAG on July 22.
For the last three years, the CAG has been assessing allotments and had criticised misuse of plots acquired from the government by changing land reservation, renting out the premises for other purposes and getting land at unjustified concessional rates.
The CAG pointed out several such trusts in the state of which 11 from Pune are Dnyaneshwari Shikshan Trust, Bharati Vidyapeeth, Defence Person’s Cooperative Society, Trimurti Adivasi Society, Kannadh Sangh, District Judge Society, Pune International Marathon Trust, Bharat Dalit Seva Sangh, Dr Vikhe Patil Foundation, Vijay Foundation and Marathwada Mitra Mandal.
The district administration issued showcause notices to these institutes allotted government land for a specific purpose. “We issued showcause notice to these institutes and most of them complied while some have issues about the land falling under reservation while there is one which has still not complied. These will be put before the CAG and the decision will be taken,” said officials from the district administration on the hearing on July 22.
The institutes violated the Maharashtra Land Revenue (Disposal of Government Lands) Rules 1971. Two years back, the CAG had slammed Bharati Vidyapeeth for sitting on 19,200 sq m land allotted to them 10 years back. The administration, after verifying it, stated that work is on at the institute at their Lohegaon site. The government land was allotted to them to start an English medium school.
“While institutes which sought land to construct schools had to request for a change in use as they were given permission for higher secondary sections while there were others trusts that did not comply with the norm and in these cases the land could be withdrawn as is the decision of the CAG after the district administration’s report,” stated the official.
Most institutes allotted land from 1960s violated the clause of construction within two years. In case of Bharati Vidyapeeth, grazing land was allotted by the state government for an English medium school. It was sanctioned on August 24, 2004. The order clearly mentioned it was sanctioning 19,200 sq m in Lohegaon in survey no 35. The order was revised on June 12, 2006 for the said purpose. However, even as there was a delay, they have taken necessary action and construction has commenced, stated the official. “We will be informing the same to CAG,” he added.
CAG had pointed out specifically about concession to Vikhe Patil foundation which had 8,094 sq m land in the district levied according to the 1983-84 rate as opposed to the 2002 rate when land use was changed benefiting the trust by Rs 74 lakh.
Last year, audits by the Auditor General of the state pointed out discrepancies in the way government land was given on lease in the district. Of the 55 cases selected for the audit, the AG observed that in 36 cases, there was a breach of lease condition and there was non-renewal of expired lease in about 20 cases.
As per the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code (MLRC) 1971, the district collector is given the authority for leasing out government land on lease for various purposes. Land is given to trusts/individuals/institutions and other by the collector on receipt of application. The lease agreement between the government and the party in question spells out conditions, purpose, time rent and other lease specifications.
During the audit, the AG noticed that in Pune district, there are 241 cases of land lease, of which 55 were selected for the audit. A total of 61 observations (non-conformity to terms and conditions of lease) were noticed during the audit. The audit noticed lack of transparency in granting land to cooperative housing societies. Violations included unavailability of documents, and non-completion of the checking process in some cases.
As per norms, government plots are given free of occupancy price and free of revenue for construction of schools, colleges, hospitals, dispensaries and other public works and profit is not expected under rule. The government gives out plots for playgrounds in schools and colleges and gymnasium for 15 years on payment of nominal lease rent of Re 1 a year.