Haryana’s ambitious Global City project hits hurdle
HSIIDC caught napping over the litigious status of parts of Harsaru land; Post CM’s Dubai visit, two senior officials placed under suspension
: In a major embarrassment, the Haryana government’s plans to market its ambitious Global City project to international investors has run into rough weather as the state agency tipped to develop it was caught napping over litigious status of parts of Garhi Harsaru and adjoining land in Gurugram on which the project is being planned.
The Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) was to develop the Global City project and with the recent development, two of its officials – a general manager and a manager looking after legal matters- have been placed under suspension by the managing director for not apprising the state government about the litigious status of the parts of the land.
The Global city is planned over 1080 acres out of the 1383 acre in Garhi Harsaru and adjoining villages which were in 2006 transferred by HSIIDC to Reliance Haryana SEZ Ltd for setting up a special economic zone. Haryana however in January 2012 had asked Reliance to return 1383 acres after the Gurgaon SEZ project could not fructify even after six years.
UAE visit turns into embarrassment
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his cabinet colleague Dushyant Chautala had led an official delegation on a two-day visit on October 3 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), seeking investment for the project among others.
The CM also chaired a roundtable conference to consider inputs from investors and seek interest of major real estate developers prior to the official launch of the project. Khattar, in fact, has held similar conferences at Gurugram and Mumbai with leading Indian stakeholders earlier.
However, the fact that the parts of the land are under litigation was not conveyed to the top brass, officials said. The delayed realisation by the HSIIDC officials that a part of the 1,080 acre is not available due to litigation has left the state government red faced.
HSIIDC managing director Vikas Gupta did not respond to calls and text messages in this regard.
HC declared acquisition of about 97 acres to have lapsed
As per a November 7, 2016 judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High court, the acquisition of land of five villages vide award of January 27, 2006 was declared to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. About 97 acres of land of five Gurugram villages Narsinghpur, Khandsa, Mohammadpur Jharsa, Harsaru, and Garoli Khurd is covered by the November 2016 judgement.
The land and property owners of these five villages had petitioned the HC challenging the acquisition of their land. The petitioners had contended that the land in these villages was acquired for the public purpose of Special Economic Zone.
“In the light of the admitted fact that during the pendency of these writ petitions, the new Land Acquisition Act (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013) has come into force with effect from January 1, 2014, the petitioner contended that wherever Section 24(2) of the new Act is held to be applicable, the impugned acquisition in such case will be deemed to have lapsed. A bench headed by justice Surya Kant in its order held that the only irresistible conclusion would be to hold that as a result of non-payment of compensation amount to the petitioners or the failure of authorities in depositing the same with the competent court, as also their failure to take possession of the acquired land and properties, for whatever reason it may be, the provisions of sections 24(2) of the new Act are fully attracted and are applicable in the captioned cases,” the HC said.
“Consequently, these writ petitions are allowed. The acquisition of the petitioner’s land and properties vide award of Jan 27, 2006 is declared to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of the new Act,’ it said.
State government can re-acquire the land, SLP pending in SC
However, the HC also said that that since section 24 (2) of the new Act itself, in so many words, contemplates the possibility of reacquisition of the land in respect where the previous acquisition has lapsed, it is necessary to direct the petitioners to maintain status quo regarding creation of third party rights; to keep the land and property free from all types of encumbrances and not to change the nature of land and property for a period of one year so that the state government may, if such property is needed for a public purpose, again acquire it.
A special leave petition filed by HSIIDC challenging the HC order is pending before the Supreme Court. The apex court has ordered that status quo be maintained on the properties.
The CM, at a recent press briefing after his return from the UAE, had said that the Global City, a mixed land use township, will be developed on about 1,080 acres to redefine the concept of urban development and what cities of the future shall look like through its sustainability-focused future-oriented infrastructure planning and design. After the initial first phase auction of 250 acres by November, the auction of other areas will also be done in a phased manner, he had said. ENDS