Seeking an explanation from Haryana on the release of Gurgaon land which the state initially proposed to acquire for public purposes, the Supreme Court sought details last week of every sale deed between land owners and private builders for 1,400 acres in the district where urban residential and commercial sectors are coming up.
But official records accessed by The Indian Express reveal that this practice is not just limited to Gurgaon.
In Sonipat, Ambala, Rohtak and Kurukshetra districts too, the state government has released over 800 acres “under acquisition” and these have eventually been cornered by builders and real estate developers.
Responding to queries from The Indian Express, the Town and Country Planning Department said: “…it is possible that through implementation of this policy such coloniser/developer also gets benefited to some extent, which is entirely incidental. It is categorically asserted that the intent of the said policy is not to extend benefits to colonisers/developers”.
Yet official records throw up a pattern, one that suggests how it happened:
n Under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, the Haryana government declares its intention to acquire land for “public purpose”.
n The announcement sends land prices crashing. The owners, mostly farmers, panic.
n Developers step in to seal deals and apply for licences to develop residential colonies.
n Land “under acquisition” is either released or the acquisition is notified under Section 6 of the Act.
This is what happened in Sonipat where 885 acres were to be acquired in the villages of Nangal Kalan, Aterna and Sersa. To build residential homes for industrial workers, the Haryana government initiated the process of acquiring land for “public purpose” to develop Sectors 59 and 60.
On October 5, 2005, a notification under Section 4 was issued. On October 6, 2006, Section 6 was invoked for the second notification. In that one-year period, the market rate crashed since everyone knew the government was set to acquire the land. An acre could no longer fetch Rs 1-2 crore in the area.
This was when private builders and developers moved in. They made outright purchases or entered into collaboration agreements to corner 653 acres of the 885 acres under acquisition.
The developers also moved to seek licences. On December 16, 2005, InTime Promoters Pvt Ltd, which gave its address as 9, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi, wrote to the Director, Town and Country Planning, Haryana. Incidentally, InTime Promoters was one of the sister concerns of TDI Infrastructure Limited which eventually developed the entire area for commercial purposes.
Another letter by Kanhaiya Communications Private Limited was written to the Director, Industries, Haryana seeking licence to develop a group housing colony.
In Ambala, 253.3 acres were under the continued…