Gujarat government, in an affidavit filed before the High Court here today, rejected allegations of wrongdoings in sale of land to a private company reportedly linked to of Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s daughter Anar, saying it was the petitioner’s “figment of imagination.”
The affidavit, filed by Joint Secretary in Revenue Department Bharat Trivedi, said the decision taken by the state government is bona-fide and in tune with the policies of the state government for promoting the tourism industry of the state.
The affidavit was filed by Gujarat government before a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Anant Dave in response to a PIL by NGO RTI Activists Sangathan through its head Razak Baloch.
The affidavit said the allotment of 99 hectare land was done by “strictly adhering to the prevailing policies of the various departments of the state government. It is a figment of imagination of the petitioner that the officers of the respondent departments have perpetrated fraud in the allotment of land.”
The petitioner sought two-week time to file a rejoinder to the affidavit, which was granted by the court.
The government land at Patla village in Amreli district was allotted to one Wildwoods Resort & Reallties Pvt. Ltd (WRR), owned by the alleged business partners of Anar Patel, at a concession rate of Rs 15 per square metre as against the actual valuation of Rs 180 per square metre, the PIL had said.
The PIL demanded a probe by a judicial committee and setting aside of the order of the state government to allot land to WRR.
“A three-tier system for determination of the real market value of the land was followed in the present case before the cabinet considered and finalised the same owing to the fact that the valuation of the land in question was more than Rs 1 crore,” the affidavit said.
It stated that while determining the allotment of the land, reports from Mamlatdar and Collector were sought apart from opinion from the Department of Tourism and an NoC from the Forest Department.
The land was allotted to WRR following a MoU signed
between the Tourism Department and WRR on January 12, 2009 for setting up of a wildlife resort with a proposed investment of Rs 80 crore, it said.
Replying to the allegation that auction was not conducted for allotting the land, the respondent stated that “auction is not a constitutional mandate and there is no such constitutional imperative in the matter of economic policies of the state.”
The Joint Secretary (Revenue) also denied the allegation that the land is within one kilometre from Gir Lion Sanctuary as alleged and said that according to the Centre’s notification dated February 9, 2011, hotels and resorts are permitted in eco-sensitive zone as “regulated activities.”
The respondent sought dismissal of the petition on the ground that the petitioners delayed the PIL by 5 years after clearance was given to the land.
The affidavit also stated that “no public interest was involved” in the petition.
“On the contrary, the project in question for which the allotment of land is requested for is purely for the purpose of promoting tourism in the state of Gujarat and thereby, in directly and indirectly, generating employment in the said area,” it stated.
The petitioner had also said in the PIL that norms for allocation of land was violated as no public auction was conducted and concession in pricing of the land also violated the norms.
( Source – PTI )