Smelling a rat in the exorbitantly high prices paid by the Punjab government for acquiring land in Bathinda,allegedly to benefit three influential families,the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday ordered a CBI probe into the case. The development assumes significance as one of the said families is alleged to have close association with state minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
A division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Jasbir Singh directed the CBI to complete the probe in a month. The court also ordered status quo on the land in question in Bathinda,which the government had acquired for a sanitary landfill facility.
The petitioners alleged that the acquisition of the land benefited three families,as they earned approximately Rs 5.63 crore. They added that the government paid a compensation of about Rs 8.67crore within days of the land being purchased by the families for just over Rs 1.50 crore.
Through counsel Ramandeep Singh Pandher,the petitioners claimed that a decision was taken to acquire 36. 81 acres in Mundi Khurd village for setting up the project after a land survey was conducted on February 10 last year. On February 25,2011,a report was sent to principal secretary,stating the land was appropriate for the purpose.
They added that the letter stated that Bathinda Municipal Corporation had 36 acres,but the project required at least 40 acres. It also recommended acquisition of 36.81 acres. In the meantime,most of the land was purchased by Yadwinder Singh and two other families for Rs 1.50 crore. Rs 8.67crore was later paid to acquire the land.
The petitioner had placed reliance on news reports stating that Yadvinder Singh was the district president of Ludhiana Youth Akali Dal and a close associate of Bikran Singh Majithia.