The Gujarat government on Wednesday filed a detailed affidavit in the High Court stating that the land allotment to Wildwoods Resorts and Realties Private Ltd was cleared in 2009 by the then chief minister Narendra Modi “after careful consideration”. It brushed aside allegations of favouring the private firm alleged to be a business partner of Anar Patel, daughter of CM Anandiben Patel.
The government filed the reply in response to a PIL that demanded quashing of the land allotment and setting up of an SIT to probe the allocation.
The PIL, filed by RTI activist Rajakbhai Baloch, alleged that “the high value public property was sold away secretly without giving public advertisements and that too at a very lower price”. It stated that the land, located near the Gir forests and spread over 9,94,824 sq m, was sold to Wildwoods Resorts and Realties Pvt Ltd for a paltry amount which caused loss to exchequer.
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The reply stated that since the valuation of the land was above Rs 1 crore, the matter was put up before the then revenue minister Anandiben Patel. “It was put up before the finance department and finance minster before getting the final nod from the chief minister to put up the file before the cabinet for its approval for the allotment of land to Wildwoods by charging Rs 1,67,13,043,” it said.
The reply, filed by Bharat Trivedi, Joint Secretary, Revenue Department, also mentioned that in the course of the “three-tier system” for clearing the land, the State Level Valuation Committee (SLVC) raised queries in July 2009 on the difference in valuation of the land — against the Jantri rate (government reckoner for market value of land) of Rs 18 lakh per hectare, the District Level Valuation Committee and chief town planner had determined a rate of Rs 1.5 lakh per hectare.
The town planner gave an opinion on October 5, 2009, justifiying the land value determined “on the ground that the land was uneven, mountainous and not capable of being developed in the near future and if the same is developed at all, the development cost will be on a higher side”, the reply said.
Following the reply, the lawyer for the petitioner sought time for filing a counter reply.
The division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Anant S Dave adjourned the matter for further hearing.