Noida housing scam: BSP cleared

After recommending action against several BSP ministers,UP Lokayukta N K Mehrotra has given a clean chit to the outgoing government.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow | Published: March 13, 2012 2:22:14 am

After recommending action against several BSP ministers,UP Lokayukta N K Mehrotra has given a clean chit to the outgoing government in the alleged Noida group housing scam.

Mehrotra,who is retiring on March 16,has conveyed to the government that he is closing the investigation as he “could not find any lack of transparency or point of corruption” in the allotment of about 38 lakh square metre of land to private builders under the group housing scheme.

His decision,coming right before the SP government is set to take over,has brought relief for many officials.

Two similar complaints were filed by Vikas Gupta,a resident of Gautam Budh Nagar,and Kirit Somaiya,BJP secretary,in October last year,alleging anomalies and lack of transparency in the allotment of 72 housing plots in the fiscal 2009-10 and 2010-2011.

In his eight-page closure report marked to Mohinder Singh,Noida Chairman,the Lokayukta has expressed “satisfaction” over the explanations given by Singh and Greater Noida CEO Rama Raman. Lokayukta has also made remarks of senior IAS officer Balwinder Kumar on the complaints the basis of his report.

Raman was CEO of Noida when these allotments took place and Kumar was Noida CEO at the time complaints were lodged.

The report said that Singh and Raman gave their detailed comments on each complaint. These were sent to the complainants,but they never replied. “It is presumed that the complainants are satisfied with the reply of the officers,” said the Lokayukta.

Asked about his failure to respond to the officials’ explanation,BJP’s Kirit Somaiya said,“It is sad and surprising. I have not received any copy of the reply so far.’’ He said he had also not received a copy of the closure report either.

Some of the points in the complaints and the Lokayukta’s findings are:

z Lack of transparency in bidding process and allotment of plots: The Lokayukta found that the advertisement of each scheme was placed in at least four national newspapers. Bid forms were sold through different banks and each scheme was open for at least

21 days.

z Allotment of 73 group housing plots at Rs 8,131 crore against the market rate of Rs 16,000 crore: Balwinder Kumar told the Lokayukta that there is no comparison between DM circle rate and rates fixed for a housing scheme. While DM Circle rate is mainly for assessment of stamp duty on the registration of properties,here the rates are defined keeping acquisition,development and maintenance of the plots in mind. The Lokayukta concluded,“While the reasoning by Balwinder Kumar is based on document and facts,the complainant has no basis to arrive at the figure of Rs 16,000 crore.’’

z Builders were given allotment after depositing 5 per cent of the bid amount and possession was given after depositing another

5 per cent. For the remaining amount,they were given 36 months’ time: The Lokayukta said that there was a fall in demand during the time period of allotments due to recession. To overcome this,a policy was formed whereby possession was given after taking 10-per cent deposit,and the allottees were given the facility to deposit the rest in

24 months.

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