The dossier prepared by the ruling Badals on the land deals of Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and his younger brother Fateh Jang Bajwa seems to be for the sake of party "treasurer" NK Sharma. The Dera Bassi MLA has a thriving realty empire, courtesy the Badals.
As Sharma's political fortunes rose, so did his realty empire. A protege of late Akali minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Sharma, who started his political journey as a sarpanch of Lohgarh village in Zirakpur, rose to be the municipal council president of Zirakpur. During his stint, he extended the municipal limits of the MC to cover more villages, changing the area into a realty goldmine. Now his empire is spread across Mohali, from residential to business towers. The details on how Sharma used political patronage to flout norms are now tumbling out, forcing the government to act.
Not only was Sharma's realty projects granted NOCs without the mandatory environment clearance, an investigation by HT also revealed that Sharma submitted a false affidavit to the State Appraisal Expert Committee (SEAC) of the ministry of environment and forests. The SEAC took up the case for consideration of grant of environment clearance to NK Sharma Enterprises on October 13, 2012 for Savitry Greens-2 at Gazipur village. The company then submitted an affidavit to the SEAC that no construction had been started at the site. The SEAC deferred a decision to grant environment clearance since the construction schedule was not provided by the company.
The reply submitted by Sharma's company on August 31 this year said the excavation work of the project had to be started on August 1, 2013. But within two months, in a personal hearing on September 25, general manager RK Mittal of the promoter company said 22,000 square metre of area had been built up at the site! The company bringing up the Rs 310-crore project, also informed the SEAC that it was not aware of the pre-requisite of obtaining an environment clearance.
Observing that the company has already carried out construction at the site without the environment clearance, the SEAC has recommended to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to initiate action under the environment (protection) Act, and restrain the company from carrying out further construction activity.
SEIAA chairman AS Dogra, when contacted, said, "The company was found to have flouted the rule to obtain environment clearance for Savitry Greens-2. We are only an advisory body and have recommended to the department of science and technology, Punjab, to initiate action."
Under fire from the opposition Congress, the Punjab Pollution Control Board had recently filed a challan in the court against Sharma's company for not obtaining the mandatory environment clearance certificate for his Savitry Greens project at Bishanpura village of Zirakpur.
Dictating land prices
Sharma's company decides realty boom and doom in Zirakpur. He sold 4.25 acre land at Gazipur village in 2008 for Rs 25 crore (Rs 12,153 per square yard). Five years later in March this year, the company bought land in the same village for Rs 25 crore (Rs 4,500 per sq yard).
Evasion of stamp duty
The Gazipur land is shown as chahi (agricultural) in nature in the sale deed, thus saving Sharma stamp duty worth crores and leading to a big loss to the revenue department. The department has asked the Mohali deputy commissioner to hold an inquiry into it. The report is awaited. Sharma's other two realty projects in Mohali district are Raksha Business Centre and Presidential Towers.
"I will file a reply to the court notice when I get it. Not just my company, all major realty projects should be under the scanner for starting construction before obtaining the environment clearance. I have not evaded any stamp duty. Let the Mohali deputy commissioner submit his report.
Many projects of our company are going on. I do not know about the false affidavit or stay recommended by the SEAC. My younger brother deals with the clearances. We will answer the notice when we get it."