Having mortgaged land of the erstwhile central jail here for raising a Rs 400-crore loan six months ago, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) is set to mortgage two more prime properties of the city to raise a multi-crore loan.
The properties to be mortgaged with a nationalised bank are 81 kanals and 5 marlas of the old district administration complex at the Civil Lines and 11 acres of Gandhi Vanita Ashram on the Kapurthala road.
When contacted, Manvesh Singh Sidhu, special principal secretary to deputy chief minister and chief administrator of PUDA, admitted that these properties were part of the pool finalised to be mortgaged to raise loans, without specifying the amount of loan to be raised against the two properties.
Meanwhile, sources in PUDA revealed that officials and lawyers of a nationalised bank on Tuesday visited the two sites and after verifying the documents, gave consent to extending the loan.
A senior PUDA official said, "We were instructed by the head office to prepare files of the old administrative complex and Gandhi Vanita Ashram and show these to visiting bank officials," adding that the bank team was satisfied with the property documents shown to them.
When contacted, Vinay Bublani, chief administrator, Jalandhar Development Authority (JDA), expressed ignorance of the mortgaging of the two properties, but admitted that the central jail land was mortgaged in March.
"The JDA is not being kept in the loop for mortgaging of the properties as the matter is being directly handled by PUDA from its head office in Chandigarh," Bublani said.
Sources revealed that in March, 23 acres of the erstwhile central jail were mortgaged to a nationalised bank in lieu of a loan of Rs 400 crore.
In March, a team led by principal secretary (housing) A Venugopal had visited the city to earmarked the properties which could be mortgaged. In June, PUDA chief administrator Manvesh Singh Sidhu made a visit to finalise the pool of properties for raising the loan.
During the past six months, the Punjab government has raised a Rs 1,500-crore loan to pay salaries to its employees and to meet its financial obligations. The government recently approved the public works department (PWD) proposal to 'mortgage' its properities for raising a bank loan up to Rs 1,000 crore for the construction of new toll tax roads.
PUDA had planned to build a shopping centre on the 23-acre land of the central jail, which was vacated after the inmates were shifted to the modern jail, Kapurthala. However, due to the slump in the real-estate sector, it was proposed to be converted into a housing society. This proposal has also been shelved, with the land now mortgaged with a nationalised bank.
Prime land of the old district administrative complex at Civil Lines was lying abandoned for years as the proposal to build a shopping mall was shelved a month after it was conceived due to the market slump.