Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday directed the Haryana government to come clean on external development charges (EDC) spent in Gurgaon by Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).
The direction came from the high court bench of justice SS Saron and justice Darshan Singh as senior advocate, ML Sarin, appearing for the petitioner, Society For Urban Regeneration, an NGO, in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) apprised the high court that two different affidavits have been filed recently by the state showing different amounts as spent till September 30, 2016.
One affidavit filed by the engineering branch of HUDA claims that ₹13,000 crore have been spent up to September 30, 2016, while another affidavit of HUDA administrator says ₹16,000 crore have been spent. “We can understand a difference of ₹3-4 crore, but here the difference is of ₹3,000 crore,” Sarin submitted.
Sarin’s submissions invited sharp criticism against the handling of EDC charges by Haryana and later state advocate general, BR Mahajan, had to intervene to assure the high court to clear picture by February 9.
Earlier, as state high court asked the state to give details of EDC spending so far, the government counsel submitted that an amount of ₹16,000 crore have been spent so far. The high court bench questioned the state as to where such a big amount has been spent. “You have failed to provide drinking water, sewer system, traffic is in mess. You have infrastructure – two hours rain (in July) flooded the entire city and people remained stuck for two days..where have you spent?” high court bench asked the state, further observing that if the state could not clarify the ‘anomaly’, it may order a probe by vigilance department.
The high court was hearing a PIL pending since 2002. The PIL alleged inadequate spending by the government on civic infrastructure in the Millennium City in proportion to the EDC collected. Following heavy rain on July 28, 2016, which left the city inundated in the monsoon and commuters stranded for hours, an application was filed in the matter highlighting the problems of the city and seeking directions for the government to take appropriate measures.
The EDC is charged from the colonisers who obtain the licence from the government for development of land in urban estates developed by HUDA. It is to be spent on development of civic infrastructure of a particular area and can’t be diverted elsewhere.
The high court has been seeking year-wise detail of EDC collected and spent in Gurgaon by HUDA for over six months now. But the state has failed in giving a satisfactory reply. The government has told the court that a separate account for the amount collected as EDC was created in February 2015 only and prior to that it was part of the HUDA funds. Hence, exact details of the collection, utilisation, etc are not available.
The EDC is being collected for over 20 years now, as per the petitioner, over ₹14,000 crore had been collected by HUDA in Gurgaon, but was not proportionately spent. It is being alleged that HUDA has neither maintained its accounts properly nor it got them audited. As the state is failing in giving out the full picture of spending and amount collected, there are apprehensions of diversion of funds elsewhere, which rules do not permit.