Vigilance Bureau starts probe in Rs 45 crore 'shady land deal '

  • Ravinder Vasudeva, Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
  • Updated: Jan 12, 2015 22:11 IST

The Vigilance Bureau has initiated probe into the alleged shady land deal between the Jalandhar Improvement Trust and Jalandhar Municipal Corporation involving the transfer of Rs 45 crore to bail the latter out of financial trouble.

Taking cognisance of Hindustan Times report “JIT in the soup for purchasing its own land to please political bosses” published on December 19, the Jalandhar unit of the bureau has written letters to JIT and the MC to bring documents of the deal in which 4,600 square yards of land, actually belonging to the improvement trust, was sold to the MC in 2011.

“Some officials of the Jalandhar Improvement Trust appeared before the VB SSP to submit a reply on Monday. The VB has issued another letter with some further questions,” confirmed a vigilance official on the condition of anonymity, citing “huge political pressure to hush up the inquiry”.

The key figure in the alleged land deal is PCS officer Vinay Bublani, a blue-eyed boy of some politicians, who is the JIT chairman.

Under political pressure to provide financial assistance to the cash-strapped MC, the JIT had purchased the land measuring 4,600 square yards from the civic body in 2011, just before the January 2012 assembly elections.

Interestingly, the land in question near Partap Bagh, once a swimming pool maintained by the MC, actually belonged to the improvement trust itself but in the sale deed it was shown as “sold” to JIT by officials in haste to please their political bosses, highly placed sources said.

Sources said the actual worth of this land as per present collector rates is between Rs 80-Rs 82 crore.
The out-of-way favour made by JIT to the civic body has now made the former’s financial position such that it is not able to pay the monthly installment for a loan of Rs 273 crore that it had taken in 2011-12 from Punjab National Bank (PNB) to develop the Surya Enclave Extension on Amritsar Road.

Even as the PNB has asked the improvement trust to submit the monthly installment on time but it has shown its inability to do so, the sources informed.

What has added to the woes of the improvement trust is that it has not been able to sell plots at Surya Enclave for one year due to petitions filed by land owners against it.

There are 450 plots carved out under the scheme, of which nearly 250 have been sold.

JIT chairman Vinay Bublani, who was also holding the charge of MC commissioner when the land was sold in 2011, has maintained that it is wrong to say that two independent local bodies (MC and JIT) cannot help each other.

Bublani, who was recruited in PCS cadre on compassionate grounds, has been recommended for elevation to the IAS cadre despite the 'shady deal' and few officers being senior to him.

Meanwhile, the Vigilance Bureau's letters on initiating the probe have created panic not only in the Jalandhar Improvement Trust but also the municipal corporation and a series of meetings are taking place as to how to get out of the mess created by certain officials with vested interests.

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