A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) tabled in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Saturday has claimed that in 2010 the state government provided an undue benefit of Rs 572.48 crore to the developers of high-tech townships in Ghaziabad by altering land use in the masterplan and not levying the land-use conversion charges.
According to a report on “Economic Sector and Public Sector Undertakings of Uttar Pradesh for the year ending March 31, 2018,” a state government order dated August 2001 said land-use conversion charges were to be levied at the Circle rates fixed by the District Magistrate for the existing use of land. The land-use conversion rate was set at 50 per cent if agricultural land was used for residential purposes.
The audit found that in May 2005 the government selected two developers to build high-tech townships in Ghaziabad. The Master Plan of 2001 was then in force. The land designated for the townships was agricultural at the time.
Two months later, the government approved Master Plan 2021, according to which the use of land designated for townships was indicative. According to the new rules, developers had to pay only the applicable land-use conversion charges, with the balance land after the construction of townships being considered agricultural sites.
The government, in orders dated May 18, 2006, and September 17, 2007, brought in the Hi-tech Township Policies of 2006 and 2007, stipulating that the developers will have to pay the applicable land-use conversion charges if the land selected is not earmarked as residential in the Master Plan.
However, the audit found that a government order — dated April 23, 2010 — on Master Plan 2021 stated that there was no provision under the UP Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973, to show land use as indicative for Hi-tech townships. The land use for the townships would be considered as residential as it had been shown so in Ghaziabad Master Plan 2021, it added. As a result, conversion charges were not payable on the land.
The auditor observed, “Authority has approved (October 2010 to October 2013) the layout plans of the developers for an area of 4,722.19 acre land which included 3,702.97 acre land indicatively earmarked as Hi-tech township in the Master Plan 2021 wherein land use conversion charges of Rs 572.48 crore were leviable on the developers. However, due to Government of Uttar Pradesh order dated 23 April 2010, the above charges could not be levied. Thus, land use of agricultural land was changed to residential land without levying land use conversion charges. This resulted in extension of an undue benefit to the developers and loss to the Authority of Rs 572.48 crore.”
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