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Bhushans get two prime plots from Mayawati govt for a song

No lottery,no auction in allotment of two 10,000 sq m farmhouse plots to Shanti Bhushan.

The political class may be evil and corrupt but that’s whom Shanti Bhushan and his son Jayant Bhushan turn to when they want a farmhouse each — for a song.

In his declaration of assets last week,Shanti Bhushan,also co-chairman of the drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill,mentioned a 10,000 sq m farmland plot in Noida.

What he did not mention was the discretionary manner in which the Mayawati government,early this year,allotted this land to him and another 10,000 sq m farmhouse plot to his lawyer son Jayant Bhushan. And in what raises questions of conflict of interest,Jayant Bhushan has appeared against Mayawati in the Noida statue park case.

Incidentally,discretionary land allotment by the government is a key issue on the agenda of the Group of Ministers on corruption.

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In fact,this allotment of Noida farmland is now the subject matter of a case in the Allahabad High Court filed by another allottee,former Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh.

Calling for the cancellation of the allotments,he has alleged that he was allotted the “worst” piece of farmland as “punishment” since he had shot off several complaints on the “arbitrary” manner in which the farmland was being allotted.

The cost of each farmhouse plot is Rs 3.5 crore and allottees had to pay just 10% — Rs 35 lakh — at the time of allotment,the rest in 16 instalments. This is less than a quarter of the market rate,according to Vikas Singh’s petition.

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When contacted,Shanti Bhushan told The Indian Express: “My son and I were among the applicants and we were surprised when we got the allotment letters. I agree there is no transparency in the scheme and allotments have been made without any clear criterion. But why should we challenge this? The people who applied and were not given the farmland should challenge it. I have heard that bribes have passed hands for these allotments but,obviously,not from us. There may be a case for a scheme like this to be cancelled.”

Sources said that while 64 “successful” applicants were selected by Noida authorities for farmland in Sectors 126,127,128,131 and 133 in the first lot,the Bhushans were among 27 “successful” candidates who appeared for an interview and got plots in a second batch in Sectors 162,164,165 and 167.

Under the scheme,called “Open ended scheme for development of farmhouse on agricultural land”,announced by the Noida authorities in January 2009,applicants had to submit a detailed project report on how the farmland would be used,approved by a chartered accountant,and provide a balance sheet of their income of last three years along with cash- flow estimates. They were also asked to appear for an “interview” before members of a screening committee.

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When contacted,S C Pabreja,AGM (Institutional) of the Noida Authority told The Indian Express that the “screening committee” included members of the Authority’s Finance,Planning,Legal,Projects,Institutional and Construction Departments.

Once the applicants were cleared by this Committee,they were called for interviews. While Noida authorities had announced they would put up a list of “successful’ allottees on their website,this has not been done.

The manner in which the farmland was allotted has been challenged in court. On April 16,the Allahabad High Court heard a bunch of writ petitions,including that of Vikas Singh. In his petition,Singh has alleged that the “the Noida Authority is not justified in selling its property at rates way below the market price and that too collecting only 10% of the premium thereof and such action of the Noida Authority in the matter of allotment of plots is clearly arbitrary and unjustified…”

Singh has also alleged that the Noida Authority made the filling of the application forms and the submission of financial papers complicated to “increase the subjectivity of the plot allotment committee in selecting or rejecting the application.”

Another joint petition has been filed by two Delhi-based doctors,Harsh Mahajan and Vinay Sabarwal,who have not been allotted the farmland. They have claimed they were “better placed” than other applicants.

First published on: 20-04-2011 at 12:12:01 am
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