Eight years on; SVB still investigating HUA plot scam

The Haryana state vigilance bureau (SVB) has been sitting on a case pertaining to the plot allotment scam since 2005.

According to documents (in possession of Hindustan Times) sought under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, the SVB had registered a case against 21 alleged ineligible plot allotees in 2009. Till date, the agency has neither taken action against illegal allotees nor nailed HUDA officials for their role in the plot allotment irregularities.

Under a special welfare scheme floated in 2001, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) had offered 897 freehold residential plots for industrial workers at Sector 25 (part II) here. The plots were allotted in 2002 but a RTI petition by worker rights activist PP Kapoor exposed in 2005 that several plots were allotted to "ineligible" individuals. In violation of rules set by HUDA, affluent families were allotted plots and some of them were allotted more than one plot. Besides, discrepancies were found in the forms filled by the allotees, including managers, secretaries to factory managers, personnel officers and non-industrial workers.

A number of allotees claiming to be low-end workers had furnished their address in posh localities of the city.

With limited information of the allotees given by HUDA, Kapoor had filed a public-interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana high court on January 8, 2008, and submitted a list of 85 alleged ineligible allotees. Admitting the PIL, the court had directed the SVB to conduct an inquiry.

In his report, SVB deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Sajjan Kumar had stated that the bureau had started investigating the case of wrong allotments on December 7, 2005. Kumar, who had investigated the matter, said several industrialists had connived to prepare false affidavits and fake experience certificates to become eligible for the scheme.

The report had named 21 people as illegal allotees and a case was registered on a DSP's complaint on April 6, 2009.

Meanwhile, turning down a plea to hand over the investigation in the scam to the CBI, then chief justice of the high court TS Thakur on September 16, 2009, had said "we hope that the SVB will take the investigation to its logical conclusion".

It further said that, "The estate officer, HUDA, reveals that allotments already made to 15 allotees have been cancelled and disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against the HUDA officials who had facilitated wrong allotments."

Official process of personal hearing of the "ineligible" allotees is still pending and not even a single plot has been resumed till date.

The HUDA had chargesheeted seven officials, including an accountant and clerks, but all of them were given a clean chit by the HUDA enforcement officer in July 2010.

No senior HUDA official was named in the case.



Official take
DSP Kumar told Hindustan Times on Tuesday that no arrest had been made in the case as the investigation was pending. "The vigilance bureau is recording statements of accused and officials. Such cases take long to wind up. No deadline can be set," the DSP said.

Meanwhile, RTI petitioner Kapoor hit out at the SVB and HUDA for unprecedented delay in taking legal action in the case. Though the SVB had named 21 people as unauthorised allotees, HUDA held no one guilty in the bungling, Kapoor said, adding that since land in question was worth crores of rupees, the corrupt elements were creating hurdles in the investigation.

"The SVB and HUDA are shielding corrupt people. The HUDA allotted the plots to ineligible people but officials in both departments are not keen to uncover the wrongdoing," he alleged.

"Even as the SVB told the court that at least 21 people forged eligibility documents and got allotments illegally, no one has been arrested. As the ineligible allotees belong to affluent families, the SVB and the state government is silent. It is a serious case where the industrial workers were deprived of their legitimate right to own a residential plot," he said.

Kapoor said, "The government lost no time in launching investigation against IAS officer Ashok Khemka who dared to question land deals involving politically influential people but the state machinery has taken no interest in case of industrial workers."

"I will soon approach the high court against the SVB and HUDA officials for creating hurdles in the investigation. I will demand an independent investigation by the CBI in a time-bound manner to expose more ineligible allotees," Kapoor added.


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