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Thursday, April 09, 2020

Vadra issue becomes a ‘hot potato’ for Haryana babus

None of the officers supplying information to Khemka required for his comments.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | Updated: April 16, 2014 6:12:12 pm

None of the officers supplying information to Khemka required for his comments.

Several senior Haryana IAS officers are caught in a war of words with their whistleblower colleague Ashok Khemka,who had earlier put the Haryana government in an embarrassing situation by cancelling a land deal mutation between UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra firm and private realty giant DLF.

The state government had sought Khemka’s comments on the inquiry report in the case but its own officers are not ready to part with any document related to Vadra. Some of Khemka’s colleagues have either gone silent on his requests to share “official information” or have slammed him for approaching them.

The Indian Express is in possession of a series of communications exchanged between at least six IAS officers,including Khemka,from March 5 till March 17 on Vadra issue. On October 19,last year,Haryana government had constituted a committee to probe into Vadra-DLF land deal and various other issues in which Khemka had indicated a politician-bureaucrat nexus. The committee submitted its report in December last year and the government asked Khemka for his comments on March 1.

Consequently,Khemka wrote to Krishna Mohan,Additional Chief Secretary and Financial Commissioner (Revenue) on March 5 and requested him to provide “(a) copy of all documents registered in any office of Sub-Registrar or Joint Sub-Registrar of the state by the companies of Robert Vadra as either vendor or vendee; and (b) any representation or appeal or complaint received from Robert Vadra or M/s DLF or M/s Onkareshwar Properties against the orders passed by Khemka as Director General,Consolidation of Holdings or as Inspector General of Registration”. Krishna Mohan didn’t respond.

On the same day Khemka wrote to YS Malik,Principal Secretary (Industries and Commerce Department) requesting for “list of land released from acquisition proceedings or not notified under section 6 of Land Acquisition Act after preliminary notification under section 4 by the department and which were licensed by the Department of Town and Country Planning in last 10 years”.

The same day Khemka also wrote to SS Dhillon,Principal Secretary (TCP),asking for “(a) all relevant files related to grant,renewal and transfer of licenses to the companies of Robert Vadra,including M/s Skylight Hospitality; (b) beneficial ownership of M/s Onkareshwar Properties,a licensee of TCP and all the relevant files related to grant,renewal and transfer of licenses to this firm; and (c) all cases concerning transfer of licenses in last 10 years” .

Haryana Chief Secretary PK Chaudhery was also sent copies of all the letters. Chaudhery also never responded.While Dhillon replied to Khemka on March 11 saying that his department is not aware of any such enquiry report and he (Khemka) should request the “concerned directorate”,Malik sent a scathing reply dated March 8 (see box) leading to a series of communications.

On March 11,Khemka approached Anurag Rastogi,Director General,TCP & UE (Urban Estates),requesting same information. However,Rastogi is also yet to respond and furnish the required information.

War of words

March 8: Malik to Khemka: ICD has not been associated or concerned with the action taken by you in your capacity as DGCH-cum-IG,Registration…. As an officer with more than 20 years service,you are expected to be aware of the rules on the subject…

March 11: Khemka to Malik: I am well aware of the rules and my duties as a public servant… Land released by ICD subsequently sold and licensed to private colonisers benefit middlemen at public cost. In one particular case,value of land transacted through M/s Skylight Hospitality belonging to Robert Vadra shot up from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 58 crore after 2.7 acres of land was licensed for commercial use… In the interest of transparency,such information should be published under section 4 of RTI Act.

March 15: Malik to Khemka: Transparency in government functioning is not your sole prerogative and allow me not to entertain any missives from you in this behalf.

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