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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Many claimants to Rs. 15.4 cr paid for land means PIT project hangs fire

Bharat Khanna, Hindustan Times  Mansa, February 16, 2014
First Published: 23:10 IST(16/2/2014) | Last Updated: 23:51 IST(16/2/2014)

A courtroom battle over the distribution of money paid for the land on which the Punjab Institute of Technology, Mansa, was to be set up has created uncertainty over the project.

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The state government had bought 53 acres, from the historical 'Dera Bhai Gurdass' in Mansa, for Punjab Technical University, the nodal centre for the project, and paid Rs. 15.4 crore. Previously, the land had been on lease.

The money was given to a trust - Bhai Gurdass Trust --- formed by Dera head Mahant Amrit Muni, recently.

However, one Tarsem Chand, claiming to be a predecessor of Muni, has filed a case in local court claiming that 'Dera Bhai Gurdass' owned the land and not the Bhai Gurdass Trust, which came into existence in September 2013.

The counsel for Tarsem told HT that the Trust was not the owner of the land. "A notice was served to Mansa sub-divisional magistrate in July 2013, according to which the distribution of the Rs. 15.4 crore was to be decided by the court. The money should remain in the possession of the district and sessions judge. However, the SDM gave the money to the Mahant. We will file a separate petition in the high court, demanding an FIR against the SDM."

Advocate BN Goyal, counsel to Mahant Amrit Muni, refused comment.

Apart from the dispute over payment, there is now contention even over the original lease agreement. A 75-member 'general house' of the Khalsa High School Mansa (KHSM) Committee has challenged the 2011 lease agreement between the dera and PTU for 45 years, claiming that it (the general house) has never passed any resolution to give effect to the lease agreement. It claimed that this resolution was necessary as committee has 99-year lease rights to the land since 1956.

"We had purchased land in Bathinda and Mansa villages in the name of 'Bhai Gurdas Trust' formed in 2013. Only saints can be members of the trust. The land has been acquired by the PTU and the amount has been paid to the trust. The matter of lease is sub-judice, but the government had already acquired the land for PTU," said Dera Mahant Amrit Muni.

PTU vice-chancellor Rajneesh Arora did not take calls.

However, dean, academics, PIT, Buta Singh, told HT: "The boundary wall of the institute is being raised. The matter is sub-judice on the lease agreement. If the court directs us to stop construction, we will abide by the orders."

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