Several heads are likely to roll as the Noida authority chairman, Rakesh Bahadur, has begun a probe into three major projects launched during the previous Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) regime.
The three projects are: farmhouse plot allotments, Noida Park and Ganga water scheme. State’s industrial development commissioner (IDC) Anil Kumar Gupta has asked the chairman to submit his report in a week.
Noida authority chief executive officer (CEO) Sanjeev Saran has found violations in a scheme for farmhouse plots launched in January 2009. Saran has informed the Uttar Pradesh government that land was acquired in 12 villages for planned industrial development using the urgency clause of the land acquisition Act but it was allotted as 150 farmhouse plots.
Use of the urgency clause meant acquisition formalities were completed quickly and the authority did not have to hear and address the objections of the landowners. One of the villages is Asdullapur where the Allahabad high court last year quashed land acquisition. Four plots located there have been jeopardised.
In a note to the IDC, Saran has said these plots (10,000 sqm each) to 120 companies and 29 individuals and allottees were allowed to construct motels, banquet halls, swimming pools and similar facilities. Saran wrote this note after the IDC sought preliminary information before he told Bahadur, to conduct an inquiry. HT broke the story on the probe in its May 15 edition.
Industrial development officials in Lucknow said agricultural land could not be acquired for such purposes. “The authority’s mandate is industrial development. Rules were tweaked to favour a select few,” said a top official. Among the allottees are famous advocate Shanti Bhushan and his son Jayant Bhushan who got a 10,000 sqm plot each.
In November last year, the Local Fund Audit Department of UP at Allahabad also indicted the authority for causing a loss of R291 crore to the state exchequer because of allotment of plots at cheap rates. The matter has now been brought out of the cold storage after a change of guard in Lucknow.
Some of the allottees themselves said there was no transparency in the scheme and allotments were done without any clear criterion. They also alleged corruption in the allotment and the matter even reached the high court. The authority had then denied the allegations.
Those allotted plots can carry out construction only in an area of 1,000 sqm. The rest of the land has to be used for agricultural purposes.
The government has also ordered a probe into illegal construction and its subsequent removal besides about Rs 60 crore wasted on both exercises at Rs 657-crore Noida Park. It is alleged the previous government ordered construction on green belt. The construction cost Rs 54.27 crore. Later on orders from the Supreme Court, Rs 5.5 crore was spent on demolishing the illegal construction.
The chairman will also probe a case of excess payments made for works related with a project to supply Ganga water to Noida. The engineering department of the authority allegedly made payments twice over for laying underground electricity cables and installing pipelines. Water quality in Noida is so poor that sourcing Ganga water, which is mixed with groundwater, is a must.
The engineering department allegedly signed about 60 bonds for different works with various firms in back date after the election notification was issued on December 12, 2011. The CEO has informed the IDC about the anomaly. The chairman will also look into it. After the model code of conduct came into force, the authority could not have technically inked agreement with companies.