RTI activist seeks CM intervention in plot allotment scam probe
As the state vigilance bureau (SVB) failed to make any headway in the multi-crore plot allotment scam in Panipat even nine years after it came to light, a workers' rights activist now pins hope on the new state government to bring justice to industrial workers.punjab Updated: Nov 02, 2014 22:35 IST
As the state vigilance bureau (SVB) failed to make any headway in the multi-crore plot allotment scam in Panipat even nine years after it came to light, a workers' rights activist now pins hope on the new state government to bring justice to industrial workers.
A Right to Information (RTI) activist, PP Kapoor told Hindustan Times on Sunday that probe by the SVB points to the alleged collusion of politicians, bureaucrats and other affluent people of the state.
He said a delayed investigation on flimsy grounds since 2005 to benefit the affluent and allegedly illegal plot allottees had devoid the poor workers of their due.
Kapoor, also the state convener of Industrial Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), said he would take up the matter and would demand personal intervention of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, besides seeking punitive action against the SVB officials for "poor" investigation.
He alleged that former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda overlooked the matter with ulterior motives even as it was highlighted several times by the media, including Hindustan Times.
Under a special welfare scheme floated in 2001, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) had offered 897 freehold residential plots for industrial workers at Sector 25 (part 2) here.
The plots were allotted in 2002 but an RTI petition by Kapoor exposed that in 2008 several plots were allotted to "ineligible" individuals.
However, following an earlier complaint, the SVB had started investigating the case of wrong allotments on December 7, 2005.
In violation of the Huda rules, affluent families were allotted plots and some of them were allotted more than one plot. Besides, discrepancies were found in the forms filled by the allottees, including managers, secretaries to factory managers, personnel officers and non-industrial workers.
A number of allottees claiming to be low-end workers had furnished their address in posh localities of the city and plots were allotted to them.
With limited information of the allottees given by Huda, Kapoor had filed a public-interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana high court on January 8, 2008, and submitted a list of 85 alleged ineligible allottees, which was worked out by Kapoor himself.
Admitting the PIL, the court had directed the SVB to conduct an inquiry.
It was stated in the SVB report that several industrialists had connived to prepare false affidavits and fake experience certificates to become eligible for the scheme.
The report had named 21 people as illegal allottees and a case was registered on a DSP's complaint on April 6, 2009.
However, Kapoor hit out at the SVB and Huda for "unprecedented" delay in taking legal action in the case.
Though the SVB had named 21 people as unauthorised allottees, Huda held none of its officials guilty in bungling, Kapoor said, adding that since land in question was worth crores of rupees corrupt elements were creating hurdles in the investigation.
"The SVB and Huda are shielding corrupt people. Huda allotted plots to ineligible people but officials in both departments are not keen to uncover the wrongdoing," he alleged while claiming that nearly 40 reminders were sent to the chief secretary, state police chief and SVB director in March this year, but to no avail.
"Even as the SVB told the court that at least 21 people forged eligibility documents and got allotments illegally, only two persons have been arrested so far. As the ineligible allottees belong to affluent families, the SVB and the state government is completely silent. It is a serious case where the industrial workers were deprived of their legitimate right to own a residential plot," he said.
Lokayukta probing matter
Following a complaint filed by RTI activist PP Kapoor in a sworn affidavit, the lokayukta is investigating the matter. It was alleged the SVB director had misused his official position by delaying the investigation on flimsy grounds since 2005 to benefit the affluent and allegedly illegal plot allottees.
In his petition to the lokayukta, Kapoor has pleaded for a speedy probe against more than 500 plot owners as the SVB had not initiated any action. "Besides a ban on the sale and purchase of the plots, these allotted plots should be resumed by the authorities before initiating further legal action against the illegal allottees," Kapoor said.
2001: HUDA offered 897 freehold residential plots for industrial workers at Sector 25 (2), Panipat
2002: Plots allotted
December 7, 2005: SVB registers a case of wrong allotments
2008: Activist PP Kapoor unearths major plot allotment scam using RTI
January 2008: PIL filed in the Punjab and Haryana high court
April 6, 2009: SVB lodges an FIR against 31 illegal allottees on the basis of list furnished by Kapoor
January 9, 2014: Father-son industrialist accused arrested. No action against 29 other accused; SVB probe has not added any new name
June 27, 2014: Kapoor complains to lokayukta against SVB officials for shoddy probe
Sept 3, 2014: Lokayukta directs home department to probe allegations against SVB.