Manesar land deal: Babu’s 10-year-old letter puts Khattar govt in a spot | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Manesar land deal: Babu’s 10-year-old letter puts Khattar govt in a spot

IAS officer Rakesh Gupta, who is currently the additional principal secretary (to CM), when posted as Gurgaon deputy commissioner (DC) in 2007 had moved the contentious letter seeking “early action”, as demanded by Manesar residents, to release their 400-odd acquired houses from the land acquisition exercise.

india Updated: May 30, 2017 22:24 IST
Pawan Sharma
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.(HT Photo)

A decade-old official letter of a bureaucrat, who is now holding a sensitive post in the Haryana chief minister’s office (CMO), about land acquisition in Gurgaon’s Manesar has put the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in a tight spot.

The 1997-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Rakesh Gupta, who is currently the additional principal secretary (to CM), when posted as Gurgaon deputy commissioner (DC) in 2007 had moved the contentious letter seeking “early action”, as demanded by Manesar residents, to release their 400-odd acquired houses from the land acquisition exercise. But within the CMO and Haryana Advocate General (AG) office, the carefully-worded letter is being interpreted as an attempt by the then Congress government to build a larger case for dropping notified land from acquisition which the builders had bought from the farmers when the land acquisition exercise was underway.

CASE FILES
  • At the core of allegations in Haryana’s suspect land deals is that the previous Congress government’s land acquisition proceedings scared the landowners, forcing them to sell off their land to builders at throwaway prices. Later, the land acquisition exercise, in many a case, was dropped after farmers/owners sold their land to the developers who threatened the land owners that the government will otherwise acquire their land. Hence, farmers lost their land and builders reaped a rich harvest. The CBI had last year registered a case.

The letter surfaced during the recent Supreme Court hearing in the suspect land deals in Manesar that the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) are investigating. Khattar government has been turning heat on former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on the issue of land deals across the state. “As the officer holds a very sensitive position in the CMO, we had conveyed to the government about what transpired during the hearing in the Supreme Court, besides some oral observations of the court about this letter,” a source in the AG office told HT.

OFFICER’S TAKE
  • “I had only asked for an early action in public interest…I had merely forwarded the details to the government urging industries department for an early decision regarding the pucca houses. I had also given reference of the letter written earlier by my predecessor to industries department on this issue. This was based on request of the villagers only as they had given representation to me. The NH-8 was blocked by the villagers and they removed the blockade after I went to meet them along with the then SP.”

When contacted, Haryana AG BR Mahajan refused to comment. Sources say a counsel opposing the government placed before the Apex Court bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and UU Lalit the letter to support the argument on how even the district administration was of the view that people were suffering due to acquisition and their request to release the acquired land should addressed in the earliest.

The catch, top government sources say, in the May 16, 2007 letter of Gupta as DC Gurgaon to then principal secretary (industries) PK Chaudhary, was that it was written after the notification under section 6 was published.

“The acquisition proceedings cannot be dropped after notification under section 6 is notified,” a government functionary said.

In his letter (No 1322-23/DRA) copied to managing director, Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation and Director, industrial department, Gupta had stated the residents of Manesar village blocked national highway No. 8 for almost two hours on May 13, 2007 causing inconvenience to public. “The villagers told the administration that Hooda had announced in their village that cemented houses will be released from acquisition, which is yet to be implemented…I will urge you for an early action in this matter so the problem is resolved,” reads the letter written in Hindi. Incidentally, in his February 2, 2016 statement of immovable property return, IAS officer Rakesh Gupta has mentioned four properties, including “1084.42 square ft shop area (ABW Towers) Gurgaon” that he and his wife own and “purchased in 2007-08 for Rs 30 lakh.”