August 5, 2021 11:21:14 pm
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday demanded a CBI probe in “the Shamlat land scam”, where a 10.4-acre land — estimated to be valued at Rs 100 crore — in Balongi village was allegedly leased out at a throwaway price to a trust headed by Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu.
The Indian Express had on August 5 reported how a group of Balongi villagers had been running a campaign and claiming that the land had been leased at throwaway prices to Bal Gopal Gau Basera Welfare Society — the trust that is headed by Punjab health Minister Balbir Sidhu.
On Thursday, demanding immediate cancellation of the trust deed, Akali leader former minister Bikram Singh Majithia said that “a probe into the allotment of the prime land in Mohali to the trust by Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa should also be conducted”.
Both Balbir Sidhu and Tript Bajwa have rubbished all allegations of any wrongdoings.
In a written statement, Majithia said, “It is condemnable that even though the Panchayats department had allowed the lease of 10.4 acres of land for the Bal Gopal Gau Basera society, headed by Balbir Sidhu ostensibly for running a ‘gaushala’, it had also allowed the construction of a banquet hall and a diagnostic centre on the same plot. This makes it clear that the lease deed was not made in good faith. The entire process reeks of a scam. The government should register a case of cheating against the Health Minister and members of the trust, as well as officials of the panchayat department responsible for this illegality.”
Majithia said even in the present case involving taking over 10.4 acres of prime land in Balongi, due process had not been followed by allotting the land to Sidhu at a throwaway lease price of Rs 25,000 per acre. He said this was done despite the fact that the land was not suitable for the establishment of a ‘gaushala’ which villagers felt should be closer to the village. The SAD leader also disclosed that the land was leased out to the gaushala trust despite the fact that there were two panchayats in Balongi village and a division of assets was yet to take place.
The SAD leader added that his party will not allow this takeover of public property for personal profit. “This is clear from the fact that one Paras Mahajan, who was involved in the transfer of Shamlat land at Darri village, is also a member of the gaushala trust floated by the minister. We will use all options available to us to force the government to overturn this decision which amounts to institutionalising corruption in the state,” he said.
“The SAD will move the courts in case the government did not cancel the lease deed,” Majithia concluded.
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