8 Land Scams That Prove the Hooda Case Is Part of a Pattern
Governments use discretionary land quota powers to offer personal favours or derive benefits.
With the current ruckus over ex-chief minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, allegedly engaging in money-laundering and fraud by allotting a plot of land at unreasonably low prices to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), you may be wondering how prevalent these practises are, and why these scams appear to come to light at politically convenient times.
Chief ministers and governments have routinely used the discretionary land quota powers at their disposal to offer favours or derive benefits. But these cases are also the result of regular political machinery; a political see-saw. Ruling parties leave no stone unturned in implicating opposition leaders in some scam or another, but when power changes hands, many of these cases are buried, and the complainant, in turn, often becomes the accused in another scam.
Here’s a list of Chief Ministers, ministers, and governments who were caught using their discretionary land allotment quotas to favour private companies and trusts, for personal benefit.
1. Hema Malini’s ‘Low Budget’ Dance Academy
Early this year, the Maharashtra government allotted a prime 2,000 sq metres of land in Mumbai to Bollywood dream girl and BJP Hema Malini to build her dance academy.
According to RTI activist Anil Galgali – who procured documents through RTI – the allotted land, worth crores, was given at the throwaway price of Rs 70,000.
Based on the PIL, the Bombay High Court ordered Mumbai police to register an FIR of cheating and forgery against Malini and the Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse.
2. Akshardham Temple Allotted 300 Times the Land It Was Allowed
According to news reports, the Akshardham temple in Delhi was allotted a whopping 30 acres of land by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) under the Centre’s discretionary authority, in violation of regulations. As per the law, a temple can be allotted only a 400 sq metre plot, which means the temple received a benefit of 300 times the allowed amount of land.
3. Yeddyurappa and Sons
Former CM of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa faced the heat for allotting a plot of government land to a private company owned by his two sons.
Yeddyurappa was arrested during the BJP government in Karnataka. Following pressure from the BJP’s top leadership, he decided to quit. He resigned on 31 July 2011. In November 2012, he formally launched his own political party Karnataka Janta Paksha. Although in 2014, just before the Lok Sabha election, he once again merged with BJP.
After much hue and cry by the Congress party, Yeddyurappa admitted it was ‘mistake’ to allot land to his sons, but maintained that it wasn’t ‘ immoral or illegal’.
4. Scamming War Widows? Really?
The infamous 31-storey Adarsh Coorperative Housing Society scam landed the then-CM of Maharashtra Ashok Chavan in trouble. The society was meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war hero widows – but was instead given to 103 individuals comprising bureaucrats and politicians, including Chavan’s relatives.
As per the market rate, an average 2-3 bedroom flat would have cost between Rs 6-8.5 crore – they were given at Rs 60-85 lakh each. That’s a loss to the state of at least 5.1 crore.
A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered by the CBI and a money-laundering case was filed by the ED. The CBI filed a chargesheet against Chavan and 12 others.
5. West Bengal Govt Loved Sourav Ganguly... a Little Too Much
In 2006, the West Bengal government allotted 63.04 kattahs (slightly over one acre) of prime land in Kolkata to the former captain of Indian cricket team, Sourav Ganguly. The plot of land was in the posh Salt Lake locality.
Based on a petition filed by an NGO, the Supreme Court ordered the allotment to be quashed, saying it was unreasonable and arbitrary, and directed Ganguly to surrender the plot within two weeks.
6. CM of Rajasthan Gave Land to Her Own Trust
Then-chief minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhra Raje, was slammed with an FIR on the District Court’s directive over allotment of land to a trust that she chaired in 2006 – the Deen Dayal Upadhay Trust.
Raje was accused of cheating, criminal conspiracy and breach of trust, among other charges. Raje had allotted 7,693 sq metres of land to her trust in a prime location. The land was given at the concessional rate of just five per cent of market price.
Source: The Hindu
7. Another CM of Rajasthan Gave Land to His Own Trust... What’s Up, Rajasthan?
Like Raje, as chief minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot allotted 20,000 sq metres of land to his own Gehlot Magic Trust and Academy in 2003 for a little over Rs 2 crore – a concessional rate of Rs 1000 per sq metre, way below market price.
When Raje came into power, an FIR was lodged on the court’s directive against Gehlot in Jaipur for cheating and criminal conspiracy. And the political merry-go-round continues.
8. NCP Leader Bhujbal Caught in Money-Laundering Case
The former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal was arrested by the ED in a money-laundering case a few months ago. Bhujbal awarded a contract of over Rs 100 crore for three projects to a private company floated by his son and nephew.
It is alleged that Bhujbal’s trust received kickbacks for passing these favours. According to the probe conducted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Maharashtra legislature, national losses were to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 6,000 crore.
Source: The Indian Express
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