Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (HSIIDC) incurred extra expenditure of Rs 742 crore in Manesar land acquisition process “due to delay in filing of appeals in court,” a latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out. The report was tabled in the Haryana Assembly during ongoing Budget Session on Wednesday.
In 2006, the HSIIDC had acquired 955 acres of land under Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act at Industrial Model Township, Manesar. The land was acquired at a cost of Rs 176 crore at the rate of 12.5 lakh per acre under the emergency clause.
Later in 2009, the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the land acquisition, except in those cases where compensation was accepted by the land owners or petitions were filed after the award of compensation in 2006. In compliance with the court order, the HSIIDC could only acquire 611 acres of land. The CAG report highlights how the legal recourse was not adopted swiftly to make efforts to acquire the remaining land from the 955 acres.
“After quashing of the acquisition of proceedings by the High Court, the company (HSIIDC) was to file appeal in all the cases within the time limit allowed by the court, but it filed appeal in (only) 10 cases in which the court (in 2011) allowed acquisition of another 56.33 acres land,” mentioned the CAG report.
The acquisition process to acquire this land (56.33 acres) was completed during October 2013 and September 2016 at the rate of Rs 12.50 lakh per acre. But the company was apparently not quick in taking up the matter related to rest of the land.
“The state government and the company were negligent in pursuing their remedy of appeal and failed to provide appropriate reasons for condoning the inordinate delay in filing the appeals. Further, there was lack of co-ordination between the government and the company as they were filing appeals separately. There was delay of 337 to 415 days in filing appeal in another 19 cases. As a result, the court quashed (in January and September 2011) the acquisition proceedings,” said the auditors in the report.
As “the acquired land measuring 668 acres was not in contiguity and could not be taken up for development”, the HSIIDC in 2013 decided decided to initiate a fresh procedure to acquire the land — the acquisition proceedings of which had been quashed by the court. In January 2017, it acquired 216 acres of land at a cost of Rs 818 crore. The cost of the land ranged between Rs 1.5 crore to 1.9 crore per acre.
CAG auditors have observed that “had the appeal been filed timely in all cases, the company could have acquired the land at old rate of Rs 12.5 lakh per acre and extra expenditure of Rs 742 crore on 216 acres land could have been avoided”.
According to the report, the HSIIDC told the CAG auditors that the “delay was inherent in government working”.
“The reply was not acceptable as there was lack of co-ordination between company and state government as both were filing the appeals separately and the very purpose of invoking emergency clause was defeated,” concluded the CAG report.