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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Papers show Bhupinder Hooda changed land use

Shishir Gupta, Nagendar Sharma and Gaurav Choudhury, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 17, 2012
First Published: 00:45 IST(17/10/2012) | Last Updated: 11:29 IST(17/10/2012)

It was Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda who had cleared the change of land use allowing a company, owned by Robert Vadra, to begin commercial activity barely a month after it purchased farmland in Gurgaon in 2008.

The 3.5 acres of land has triggered the storm following the cancellation of the deal between Vadra and real estate major DLF on Monday by an IAS officer in the state land registration department.

Official documents, possessed by HT, show that Vadra’s company, Sky Light Hospitality, purchased the land at Shikohpur village in Gurgaon for Rs. 7.5 crore on February 12, 2008 and sought permission to develop a commercial colony on the land.

And the Hooda government promptly granted the permission on March 21, 2008.

Surprisingly, within three months of getting the permission, Sky Light Hospitality signed a deal to sell the same plot for Rs. 58 crore to DLF —nearly  eight times the price at which it had purchased the land.

“The case fulfills the basic norms for grant of licence for developing commercial colony… (the) CM has approved,” states the file noting signed by Chhatar Singh, then additional principal secretary to Hooda.

The Haryana government, however, claimed the entire deal was transparent. “The government did not favour anyone and acted in a neutral manner,” a government statement quoted Hooda as saying. The chief minister’s office, however, did not respond to queries about approving the change in land use.

But the file notings and the Haryana land registration inspector general’s inquiry report are at odds with the government’s version. The inquiry report raises questions over why the state government renewed the licence of Vadra’s company to continue with the construction of commercial buildings in January 2011 when it had, on paper, sold the land to DLF in 2008.

The latest revelations show that Vadra’s company received R50 crore in four installments between June 2008 and October 2009. The balance Rs. 8 crore was paid in July this year and the final transfer of the land title deed to DLF took place only last month.

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