The CBI on Thursday registered a case in connection with the release of about 400 acres of land, acquired at alleged throw-away prices from villagers in Gurgaon by the former Congress government in Haryana. The land was allegedly sold off to private builders. According to the CBI, villagers incurred losses of Rs 1,500 crore in the process.
On March 10, The Indian Express had reported that the the Haryana government, led by the BJP, is planning to probe the release of about 16,000 acres of land by the previous Congress regime from the official acquisition process after it had issued notifications to acquire them for “public purpose”.
Official figures showed that 2,602.58 acres of land was released by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), under the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government, in three districts: Gurgaon, Sonipat and Rohtak. Records also revealed that a bulk of the land thus released was obtained by private real estate developers.
The CBI FIR, lodged under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), mentions “unknown public servants of Haryana government and unknown private persons” as the accused.
It is based on a case filed at the Manesar police station which alleged that “private builders in conspiracy with unknown public servants of Haryana government had purchased around 400 acres of land from the farmers and land owners of village Manesar, Naurangpur & Lakhnoula, district Gurgaon at throw-away prices between August 27, 2004 and August 24, 2007.”
According to the CBI, the Haryana government initially had issued notifications under sections 4, 6 and 9 of the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring land measuring about 912 acres for setting up an industrial model township at villages Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula in Gurgaon.
The CBI says on August 24, 2007, director of industries (Haryana) passed an order releasing 400 acres from the acquisition process. However, it was not restored to the original owners but released to builders, their companies and agents in violation of the government policy, said the agency.
“After that, all the land had allegedly been grabbed from the land owners by the private builders under the threat of acquisition at meager rates,” said a CBI statement.
According to CBI, this way a loss of Rs 1,500 crore was caused to the original land owners as the market value of land at that time was Rs 4 crore per acre while the entire chunk was bought by private builders for just Rs 100 crore.
Government records accessed by The Indian Express in the case of release of 16,000 acres of land — of which these 400 acres were a part — show that the then government issued over 175 Change of Land Use (CLUs)/colony licences on 4,636.608 acres.
Records show that the release of land happened mainly in three phases:
* 5,758.835 acres between the issuance of the preliminary notification under Section 4 of the existing Land Acquisition Act and the following notification under Section 6, which declares that the land is being acquired for a “public purpose”.
* 4,607.672 acres between the issuance of notification under Section 6 and the announcement of compensation.
* 5,638.349 acres after the compensation was announced.
The figures also reveal that HUDA alone incurred an expenditure of Rs 9,852 crore as cost of land acquisition during the Congress regime. The authority also spent over Rs. 9,997 crore as enhancement cost and an additional Rs 9,201 crore towards development work.
The official records also provide details of how most of the land, released across the state, ended up in the hands of private players. Consider these:
* Sonipat: Of 885 acres notified in Nangal Kalan, Aterna and Sirsa to meet residential needs of industrial workers, 653 acres were either bought or obtained through agreements by private players.
* Ambala: Of 253.3 acres notified in Kandli, Kanwali, Sounda and Sarai Mehdoor, over 158 acres were released from which more than 100 acres were purchased by private players.
* Gurgaon: 1,400 acres notified for acquisition for “public purpose” in sectors 58-64 and 65-67 were released from the acquisition process. Last September, the Supreme Court sought details of each sale deed of the land that was sold after it was released. The case is ongoing.
* Manesar: 912 acres notified in Manesar, Lakhnaula and Naurangpur for industrial workers were released and ultimately obtained by private players.