The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has begun construction of a 100 feet wide, 1.3 km road to a luxury resort partly owned by Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and her husband, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
A social impact assessment (SIA) report of the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that the road will cost Rs 29 crore.
Construction of the road to the Metro Eco Green Resorts at Palanpur in Kharar tehsil of SAS Nagar district began last month with the government claiming work was being undertaken for “public purpose”.
The Badals have major shareholding in the resort. In her statement of assets and liabilities, available on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office, Harsimrat Kaur has listed equity shares in Metro Eco Green Resorts — Rs 81,50,000 against her name and Rs 2,69,42,500 for husband Sukhbir.
Manvesh Singh Sidhu, Special Principal Secretary to the Deputy Chief Minister, said: “The road is being built as per the Master Plan. All roads in Mullanpur (New Chandigarh) are being built as per the Master Plan. It is part of the duly notified New Chandigarh Master Plan. Since this is a Master Plan road, this is also being built.”
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has justified construction of the new road: “The existing road is very narrow and passes through a built-up and congested section of the village ring road (Phirni); multi-axle trucks and vehicles for colleges move along the existing road; and the geometry of the existing road is very poor and not suitable for heavy vehicles. Therefore, chances of accident is more”.
“People who own houses along the existing road have reported vibration and noise problem which may result in cracks in houses. Therefore, there is urgent need to construct an alternative road. The proposed Master Plan Road from Majra T-Junction to Palanpur is an alternative route”.
The SIA makes no mention of providing connectivity to the resort. “The proposed road is the only Master Plan Road which connects rural areas of Palanpur to New Chandigarh. This road will also connect various colleges and institutions which are otherwise not connected with a good road,” the SIA states.
“After careful examination of various parameters of cost and benefit (positive and negative impact), it is found that the proposed construction would benefit local community at large even though cost of construction is about Rs 29 crores,” the SIA states.
One of the affected land owners — land for the road has been acquired by the Punjab government — refused to accept compensation and has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Palanpur village sarpanch Harbhajan Singh said, “The demand for a new road was raised by Majra village residents. There have been accidents in the past on the existing road. The new road will merge into the existing road… eventually lead to the Badal resort.”
Asked about the road and the petition in court, Rajdeep Kaur, Land Acquisition Collector of GMADA, said: “Everything is as per the new Act and as per procedure. The person concerned was well aware. There is proof of their attendance in the meetings. All payments have been made. Nothing is pending with the GMADA. There is no lacunae. The road is as per the Master Plan. Land has been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act of 2013. This is required as per the Master Plan. The petitioner met me after the announcement of the award. They said they knew that the procedure had been on for the last two years. Why did they not object then?”