Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwals India Against Corruption Wednesday alleged that BJP president Nitin Gadkari sought and secured for a trust run by him 37 hectares of land which was acquired by the Maharashtra government to build a dam in Vidarbha but eventually not used. Gadkari was an MLA and Maharashtra BJP chief when the transaction took place.
IAC claimed the land was leased to Gadkaris trust Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sanstha by the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation in two parts in 2005 and 2007 in violation of rules,and alleged a nexus between Gadkari and the NCP,saying the land was allotted by Ajit Pawar,the then irrigation minister.
Kejriwal produced what he said was documentary evidence to prove the transfer of land to Gadkaris Wardha-based trust. But he did not similarly substantiate his other allegation that a power and sugar plant operated by Gadkaris Purti group near the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam to build which the 37 hectares were acquired was using all the water and starving farmers.
Gadkari and the BJP rejected the IAC allegations. Gadkari dismissed the charges as baseless and termed them as part of a conspiracy to malign the BJP as the image of the Congress was being damaged by alleged corruption scandals. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj also indicated that Gadkari,as expected,will get a second term as party chief when his term ends in December.
IAC said it was not demanding a probe as it does not expect the state or central governments to order one. They are all hand in glove. We only want the people to understand all this. We are only asking people to rise and get up as this is the time, Kejriwal said.
IAC claimed that 31.598 hectares of land was given to Gadkaris trust in 2005 and 5.36 hectares in 2007,overruling the objections of the irrigation secretary and despite villagers demanding that they wanted to buy back the unused land. According to rules,excess land should either be returned to farmers or leased out to them for farming,IAC said.
The deal in question,IAC said,involved acquiring land in Khursapur village in Umred taluk in Nagpur district to build the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam.
Kerjiwal said Gadkari had on June 4,2005 written to Ajit Pawar requesting that 36.51 hectares of unused acquired land should be given to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sanstha,Wardha on a 99-year lease and he also recommended that the proposal of Gems of India for 11.27 hectares should be granted. Kejriwal did not say to whom Gems of India belonged.
He said within four days,Pawar recommended tabling of the letter in the VIDC committee meeting on June 22,2005. In resolution number 23/2 it was agreed 31.598 hectares of land which was acquired from villagers but not utilized…should be given on lease by a special grant to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sanstha. It was further decided that 5.36 hectares should be given to Gems of India,Nagpur, IAC said. After Gems of India said it could not lease the land,the plot was also given to Gadkaris trust,it added.
Kejriwal claimed the allotment was in violation of rules as a April 6,2005 order of the Maharashtra government said irrigation development corporations should not lease or rent any additional land that has been with them for a prolonged period of time to private organisations.
He alleged a quid pro quo between Gadkari and Maharashtras Congress-NCP government. When Gadkari receives a favour from the ruling coalition of Congress-NCP in Maharashtra in the form of irrigation dam water and farmers lands…he assures them that as opposition,he would not allow his party to speak against the ruling establishments corruption. He assures them that even if his party is forced to oppose due to media pressures or political compulsions,the opposition would merely be cosmetic, Kejriwal alleged.
KEJRIWALS FARMERS ELUSIVE; IAC SAYS UNDER PRESSURE
GAJANAN GADGE and SATISH BHAGAT,two farmers from Bela village whose land was allegedly leased illegally to Nitin Gadkaris NGO Purti Kalyankari Sanstha,refused to appear before reporters in Nagpur Wednesday. IACs Nagpur unit chief Ajay Sanghi said the two men were under pressure and did not want to come before the media.