Government auditor CAG has slammed the Congress government in Haryana for releasing the land to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust in Gurgaon for setting up an eye hospital in violation of policy.
In a report tabled on the concluding day of the Haryana budget session here, CAG has found that the state government released the land for allowing Trust to set up an eye hospital in contravention of the land release policy of the state.
“GP (Gram Panchayat) which was the owner of the land had not approached the government for the release of the land at any stage (but) the government changed the relevant rules on November 8, 2010 … The department granted CLU for establishing eye hospital by the Trust in violation of development plan as the area had been earmarked demarcated as residential area,” said CAG in its report.
Notably, Opposition parties including INLD and BJP had accused the Haryana government of giving the land to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust in violation of the rules and policies.
While scrutinising the records of Haryana’s Urban Estates Department, the government auditor discovered that a notification under section 4 of Land Acquisition Act to acquire 166.44 acres of land in village Ullahwas in Gurgaon district was issued on June 2, 2009, for developing a residential sectors 58-63 and commercial sectors 65 to 67.
The area coming under the proposed land also included Shamlat Deh (Common land) of Gram Panchayat (GP).
However, after issuing the section 4 notification, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust requested the GP in July 2009 for leasing land 5.3 acres of land for opening an eye hospital for 33 years. Following it, GP passed a resolution for leasing the land to the Trust and sent the case to government for its approval.
Haryana government approved the GP’s proposal on December 14, 2009 and land was leased at a rate of Rs 3 lakh per acre with progressive increase of 5 per cent every year. The lease agreement was signed in January 2010.
Then Trust applied to Town and Country Planning Department for change of land use (CLU) for setting up an eye hospital.
But CAG pointed out in the report that GP had leased the land to the Trust after an issue of notification of section 4 which was against the provisions of the Act as the owners could not create encumbrance on the land after the issue of said notification.
CAG said, “The government released land in contravention to the land release policy as no objection was filed by GP under section 5-A and before releasing land, GP had not given proper publicity for calling applications from interested parties as required under Rule 10 of Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964 to participate in the competition for ensuring transparency in bidding process.”
Land Release Policy 2007 stipulates that only those requests can be considered by the government where objections under section 5-A have been filed.
The Trust was asked to get the land released before applying for CLU. The proposal for the grant of CLU to the Trust was accepted on December 1, 2010 subject to the condition that the land would be released by the government.
“The proposal about release of land was submitted on December 3, 2010 and was granted on the same day,” CAG said.
Moreover, CAG also discovered in December 2012 that the even after two years from the date of commencement of lease period, work regarding the construction of eye hospital had not been started by the Trust thereby defeating the very purpose for which CLU was granted and land leased, it added. Lease agreement was signed in January 2010.
However, Town and Country Planning department in its defence said that land was released in favour of GP which was the owner of the land but the CLU had been granted in favour of the Trust as per policy of the department which permitted CLU to lease holders of GP’s land.
The department further said that the government had the powers to consider release of land under section 48 of the Act where award of same had not been announced.