The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promises a stormy assembly session in November as it plans to corner the Harish Rawat government for allegedly underselling land in Almora to the Jindal group against rules.
The corporate group has been given 350 nalis (7.06 hectares) at Nanisar village in Ranikhet for setting up an international boarding school.
Chief minister Harish Rawat laid the foundation stone for the proposed school on Thursday amid massive protests by the residents of Nainisar. Uttarakhand Parivartan Party president P C Tiwari and several activists were detained, and a number of BJP workers demonstrated near the venue.
BJP’s leader of Opposition Ajay Bhatt said the Rawat government kept the villagers in the dark about its plan.
“In fact, several hundred crores changed hands in the process and we are going to vociferously raise the issue on the floor of the House,” Bhatt told HT.
The state assembly’s five-day winter session will begin from November 2 at Gairsain, the state’s centrally located hill town being developed as its summer capital.
Quoting information obtained through Right to Information Act, the BJP leader claimed the chief minister laid the foundation stone for the proposed school on the land that had yet not been leased out to the Jindal group.
“The land is a fallow farmland that belongs to the forest department…Its land use is yet to be changed as per the provisions of the Soil Conservation Act,” he said.
He alleged that some 156 trees had been illegally removed from the village for the proposed school, and a road had also been constructed overnight on the controversial land.
The chief minister’s office has rubbished the allegations, turning the table on the BJP leaders.
“Most BJP leaders have commercial institutes running on the plots worth crores of rupees in the state they purchased by paying just token money,” said Surendra Kumar, the CM’s media in-charge.
“So, what moral right do they have to blame us?” he asked.
Kumar clarified that the land given to the Jindal group was a part of the state government’s move to invite industrial investments in the hilly areas. “Such a decision had been taken at a cabinet meeting some three months back,” he said.
Bhatt said his party would also raise in the House corruption in the government, hinting at the multi-crore scam involving officials engaged in relief works post the 2013 floods.