Punjab: End of the road for Tata-MLA partnership? | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Punjab: End of the road for Tata-MLA partnership?

A prime real estate partnership entered into 10 years ago for big gains now has both partners headed nowhere with each claiming heavy losses. Yet both partners of the Tata Camelot housing project near Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake still don’t want to give it all up so easily.

punjab Updated: Apr 14, 2017 10:11 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Tata Camelot housing project site at Kansal on the outskirts of Chandigarh.
Tata Camelot housing project site at Kansal on the outskirts of Chandigarh.(Anil Dayal/HT Photo)

A prime real estate partnership entered into 10 years ago for big gains now has both partners headed nowhere with each claiming heavy losses. Yet both partners of the Tata Camelot housing project near Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake still don’t want to give it all up so easily.

The Delhi high court order on Wednesday set aside the environment clearance to Tata Camelot, complicating matters for the project, which has been hanging fire for the past several years.

THE GRAND DESIGN

The Tatas were to construct about 15 to 17 skyscrapers with 1,500 to 1,700 high-end residential flats and commercial spaces in Kansal village on 53 acres of land (21.2 acres from the MLAs society, 28.7 acres from defence services self-supporting society and 3 acres of private land).

In lieu of the land, the Tatas had promised to pay Rs 82.5 lakh to each member of the society along with a flat measuring 2,500 square feet. Sources say the Tatas had entered into a similar arrangement with the defence services society and the private land owner as well.

The MLAs society has 129 members; the defence services society too has a similar number of members. After allotting 300 odd flats to the two societies and the private owner, the Tatas had proposed to sell off the remaining flats at high prices.

Also read |Tata Camelot housing project: Delhi HC order a wake-up call for Chandigarh authorities

COURTING ROW

But their dream of making big bucks came crashing down six years ago, when the Punjab and Haryana high court came down heavily on the project following a public interest litigation. An appeal is now pending in the Supreme Court.

Out of Rs 82.5 lakh to be paid to each member of the society, Tatas had only paid Rs 33 lakh, immediately after inking the agreement. The remaining two instalments of Rs 24.7 lakh each were to be paid after the clearance of the project by the local civic body and starting of the project, respectively. An office-bearer says members of the MLAs society include ministers and the likes of Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Former Vidhan Sabha speaker Charanjeet Singh Atwal, chairman of the society, was not available for comments.

In 2013, the MLAs had tried to break off their agreement with the Tatas but the latter refused.

THE ORIGINAL PLAN

About 100 members (a total of 129 shares, with some members having two shares) of the MLAs Cooperative House-building Society collectively brought 21.2 acres in 2000-01 by pooling in Rs 5 lakh each. Subsequently, they pooled in Rs 1.5 lakh each for development of the area. The initial plan was to build houses on 500 square yards each.

A TOTAL LOSS

“A 500 sq yard plot in Kansal is worth Rs 2 crore today, but our land under litigation has no value,” rued a member. Also, Rs 33 lakh paid to the each unit holder in the MLAs society has reportedly attracted an income tax penalty to the tune of Rs 1 crore. “The bank accounts of members and the society have been seized by the income tax department. We have had a very bad experience, and simply want to exit the project,” said another office-bearer, claiming that the project had also sullied their image.

“We were issued notices by the income tax department, asking us to pay a tax of Rs 66 lakh on the income we would have made (after getting flats and the upfront money of Rs 82.5 lakh). The Punjab and Haryana high court gave us relief, but the IT department has approached the Supreme Court against the HC orders. The IT sword continues to hang on our heads,” lamented the member.

Officials of Tata Housing were not available for comments.