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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Chhattisgarh: Trust owned by Speaker "encroaches" on govt land 

Ejaz Kaiser, Hindustan Times  Raipur, July 12, 2014
First Published: 20:44 IST(12/7/2014) | Last Updated: 20:49 IST(12/7/2014)

The Raipur administration has ordered to confiscate a massive Hanuman temple, shopping complex and other assets constructed on an "illegally encroached" government prime land by a trust owned by the "prosperous" family of Chhattisgarh assembly speaker Gauri Shankar Agrawal.

Agrawal, who is a treasurer of the trust, faces serious allegations of illegally occupying 0.46 hectare prime land and constructing on it a Hanuman temple, satsang bhawan (prayer hall), 19 shops and a garden.

The Lok Ayog has ordered the district collector for a probe into the complaint lodged in 2012 by Rakesh Choubey, RTI activist and president of voluntary organisation 'Hamar Sangwari'.

"The entire issue is of cheating and dishonest practice. Massive funds were amassed by the trust for temple and religious works. Besides, the taxes were evaded as amount donated attracted deduction under section 80G of IT Act," Choubey, who shared the documents with HT, said. He held Agrawal, a BJP MLA from Kasdol constituency, as culprit in the entire issue.

According to Choubey the land was taken into illegal possession during 2007-08 and the temple's foundation laid down in 2009, three years before the inauguration in 2012.

"All these development took place when Agrawal was then chairman of state mineral development corporation. The trust belongs to Agrawal's prosperous family. Owing to the strong political influence no action was taken when I protested and raised the issue earlier," Choubey said. The power connection for the temple has been taken on the name of Agrawal.

The Speaker was not available for his comments. The opposition Congress expressed shock.

"Now it remains to be seen who will prevail: the guidelines of the Supreme Court on dismantling the illegally constructed assets on an encroached land or those who talk of high moral grounds but play the game of illegal encroachment of land on the name of religion," the leader of opposition, TS Singhdeo, told HT.

On the basis of findings from the ground and observations made by tehsildar, Raipur collector Thakur Ram Singh wrote a letter to the secretary, revenue department, citing that the trust has "illegally" occupied 0.460 hectare government land and built a Hanuman temple, satsang bawan and constructed 19 shops besides a garden.

A penalty of Rs. 5,000 was imposed on the trust and it was directed to remove its encroachment. "The temple and other assets constructed on the prime land has been handed over to the Raipur Municipal Corporation to take care of it till further orders," the collector told HT.   


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