Congress’s Mumbai unit chief Sanjay Nirupam has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court, alleging major irregularities in the allotment of 600 acres of land to Patanjali for setting up a food park in Multi-Modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN), Nagpur. The petition has been filed against the Union government, the state government, and Ramdev’s Patanjali group. Nirupam has alleged that the state favoured Patanjali and “flouted all tender and legal norms” to allot the plot to Ramdev at the “instance of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.” The petition seeks an inquiry into the allotment, and wants the court to restrain Patanjali Ayurveda from using the land until a final order.
The petition alleges that the plot is part of a reserved forest area meant to be used only for ecological development. But, claims the plea, the state not only allotted it to Ramdev for a commercial food park, but made the allotment at a huge concession. The concession was made at the “instance of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, also the guardian minister of Nagpur,” states the plea.
Nirupam has claimed that he is in possession of documents to show that as per the state’s “own admission”, the base price of the land parcel was at least Rs 36 lakh per acre,”and that the land parcel was worth about Rs 5,000 crore”. An MoU was signed between Patanjali and Maharashtra after a tender process in August last year. Nirupam has claimed in the petition that the “price quotes for the bids were changed by the state without any explanation” and that when one of the officers in the administration raised an objection to this, “he was immediately transferred out.”
Nirupam has also alleged he has video and audio clips to prove that “much before the tender process was finalised, Gadkari announced in a press conference in Nagpur that the state would allot the land parcel at MIHAN to Patanjali Ayurveda.” He said that though the state recently justified the allotment of forest land for a food park by saying that Ramdev would use much of it for farming purposes, there was no denying that the government had flouted norms.