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‘Politicians misused education land’

Five politicians changed land reservation, rented out premises, and got the land at unjustified concessional rates.

mumbai Updated: Apr 18, 2012 02:58 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

Education institutes promoted by five state politicians, of which two are former chief ministers, have been slammed in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) tabled in the legislature on Tuesday.

The politicians whose trusts had been incriminated in the report include ex-CMs Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is now a Union minister, and Narayan Rane, presently the state industries minister, along with state public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal, forests minister Patangrao Kadam and agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.

The report has indicted the institutes on account of misuse of plots, acquired from the government for educational purposes, by changing the land reservation, renting out the premises for other purposes, and by getting the land at unjustified concessional rates.

The Manjra Charitable Trust controlled by Deshmukh has found mention in the report for getting a 23,840-sq-m land in Borivli at Rs6.56 crore in September 2005, the current market value of which is Rs30.37 crore. The report says that the application for allotting land to the trust for setting up a dental college was ‘approved without assigning reasons for preferential treatment’ by then CM Deshmukh.

The CAG report indicts Mumbai Education Trust founded by Bhujbal on account of non-utilisation of 91,300 square meter of land in Nashik, and the state changing its reservation from mining to educational despite objections raised by the finance department.

Misutilisation of land has been pointed out by the CAG in the case of Sindhudurg Shikshan Prasarak Mandal run by Rane’s family. A 1,669-sq-m plot in Andheri was allotted to the trust in 1999 and 2004 for running a community centre, but the building called Sindhudurg Bhavan came up and was being used as a banquet hall charging Rs2 lakh a day, the CAG report notes.

The Mandal’s website says Rane’s wife Neelam is the chairperson, and elder son and Congress MP Nilesh Rane is the vice chairman of the educational institute. Rane defended the charges, and said: “Our names are not in the report.”

The CAG has slammed Bharti Vidyapeeth, an education institute run by Kadam that has been sitting on 19,200 sq m of land allotted to it in Lohgaon, Pune, seven years ago, but has not developed it despite a clause mandating that construction should commence within two years.

The report points out concessions doled out to Vikhe-Patil foundation run by the agriculture minister, for which occupancy charges for a 8,094 sq m land in Pune were levied according the 1983-84 rate, as opposed to the 2002 one when the land use was changed, benefiting the trust by Rs 74 lakh.