A performance audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on land acquisition and allotment of properties in Noida, tabled in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Friday, points to several anomalies and discrepancies that caused huge losses to the exchequer between the financial years 2005-06 and 2017-18.
It was in July 2017 that the UP government decided to order an audit of Noida and three other industrial development authorities. The audit found issues in the allotment of plots for housing projects, farmhouses and Sports City, and also concluded that the very development in Noida defied the purpose for which it was formed, that is, industrial development. Rather, it said, residential development became the predominant activity, with as much as 52 per cent land allocation focusing on the same.
The report also points out that in the course of land acquisition, “the rights of farmers were side-stepped through misuse of statutory provisions” and that allotment of properties was full of “instances of lack of due diligence, contravention of rules and orders, misrepresentation and wilful concealment of facts”.
The report said the findings “bring out serious lapses of probity, integrity and ethics in governance of the Authority”. Some key findings:
The report flagged “excessive use of the urgency clause to acquire land under Land Acquisition Act 1984”. The invocation of this clause enabled the Collector to dispense with the rights of landowners with respect to hearing their objections, while acquiring land for Noida. It found that approximately 80 per cent of land was acquired by using this provision.
As per the report, the Noida authority allotted 67 group housing plots over an area of 71.03 lakh sq km. These were sub-divided into 113 projects, out of which 71 were either incomplete or partially complete.
“Out of the 1,30,005 flats, occupancy certificate was not issued for 44% of flats due to which home buyers who have invested their lives savings and hard-earned money in the purchase of flats still remained deprived of possession of their flats,” read the report.
The report also said that the Authority failed to take action against builders with huge dues: “Noida, rather than taking statutory action, made multiple allotments to group companies of Amrapali and Unitech, who were in default of payment of dues for earlier allotments to the tune of Rs 9828.49 crore as of March 31, 2020.”
The audit found that allotment of commercial plots was done to a few select groups during the audit time period: “79.83 per cent of total allotments in commercial category plots made during the period 2005-18 were to three groups viz Wave, Three C and Logix Groups.” The audit found that “despite repeated violations and outstanding dues of Rs 14,958.45 crore, Noida failed to take action against these groups, enabling them to hold majority of commercial land.”
Sports city project
The audit found that Sports city scheme was launched without proper approvals and in deviation from its primary mandate of development of an industrial township. The audit found that Noida allotted four plots during 2011-16 for the integrated development of four sports cities with the aim of holding marquee sports events like the National Games, Commonwealth Games and Asiad Games. Three golf courses of nine holes each and one International Cricket Stadium were planned.
However, it was later discovered that the 65-acre golf course establishment was not possible, while there were no signs of the cricket stadium. The audit found that instead of sports activities, precedence was given to housing projects in the area.
“In terms of allotment of farmhouse plots, it was observed that the Plot Allotment Committee (PAC) did not have any objective or transparent criteria for interview or assessment of applications. It adjudged satisfactory or unsatisfactory without detailing the basis of judgment,” said the report.
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