This November 14, the Chandigarh administration will be inaugurating a government school in Kishangarh village, which has been built on a piece of land that remained under litigation for long and whose ownership no longer lies with the UT.
The administration has spent nearly Rs 11 crore on the construction of the school building and a community centre on 3.5 acres of land, which was part of 55.9 acres acquired from the village in 2003 to expand the second phase of Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (IT park).
The land, however, slipped out of the administration’s hands when the Punjab and Haryana high court quashed its acquisition notification in 2013, on grounds similar to which the Supreme Court had quashed the acquisition of about 275 acres of land for the third phase of the IT park, in October 2012. Soon after, the UT administration filed a special leave petition in the apex court, which, too, was dismissed on March 14, 2014.
“Since the administration lost in the court, the land had to be transferred to its original owners,” said an official of the department.
The reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by a Panchkula resident revealed that Manimajra-based Prem Singh and his wife, Tej Kaur, are the actual owners of the land on which the two buildings have been constructed.
However, officials claim that the administration was in possession of the land when the construction began in 2012. Chief engineer SK Chadha said that the project faced no problem as the approval for the construction of the two buildings came from the urban town planning department.
The RTI applicant, on the other hand, said that the construction was allowed despite the case pending in court and continued even after the high court quashed the land acquisition notification in 2013.
Since the landowners are in their 80s and have health issues, they could not be contacted. Their son Shamsher Singh told HT, “It is extremely disappointing that the government has not done anything about this in the past one year. First, they dared to construct a building on the land that was under litigation. Now, they are going ahead with the school’s inauguration. How can they be so ignorant?”
‘No compensation yet’
After the acquisition of land was quashed by court, the UT administration in November 2014 wrote to several landowners, asking them to return the compensation amount and take back the possession of their land. As some landowners could not be contacted, the administration had placed a public notice to contact them. Shamsher Singh, however, claimed that they had received no compensation yet. He hinted at being at least compensated for the land.
The owners are entitled to compensation four times the collector’s rate in rural areas. In Kishangarh, the collector’s rate is Rs 1.15 crore per acre. Claiming that there was no dispute, director public instruction (schools) Rubinderjit Singh Brar said, “I have received no demand for compensation from the estate office.”
Finance secretary caught napping
Sources told HT that almost eight months ago, the UT adviser had asked finance-cum-education secretary Sarvjit Singh to resolve the issue surrounding the land, on which the school has been built, at the earliest. When contacted, Sarvjit Singh said: “I haven’t attended to the issue yet. I’ll look into it.”