Chandigarh mega projects under vigilance scanner

January 7th, 2009 - 12:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Jan 7 (IANS) Controversial mega projects in Chandigarh worth billions of rupees under prevailing market prices are under the scanner of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).The CVC has sought all files pertaining to the mega-projects from the Chandigarh administration to investigate alleged corruption in land deals, official sources in the administration confirmed Wednesday.

Using its powers as a court, the CVC has announced the setting up of a vigilance commission to probe the murky land deals worth billions of rupees. The probe will be a major embarrassment for the administration top brass as local NGOs have alleged irregularities and corruption in the land deals.

“We will comply with the orders of the CVC. All files will be sent for this probe,” a senior union territory (UT) official said.

The land deals, most of which have been concluded in the last three years, have generated much controversy with the city’s mayor and senior Congress leaders demanding that UT Administrator S.F. Rodrigues, who is also the Punjab governor, give up his post as the city’s administrative head until a probe into the deals by a central agency.

At the centre of the controversy are ambitious projects like the Film-city, the Medi-city, the Amusement-cum-Theme Park and the new phase of the Information Technology (IT) Park.

The administration has not only been accused of rushing in with some of the projects but also making allotments to certain big realty companies at prices much lower than the prevailing market rates for land in the 114-square km city, which is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana but is a centrally-administered union territory.

The 73-acre Amusement-cum-Theme Park project has not got off the ground even two years after it was allotted to realty major Unitech as the administration failed to extend facilities on the land. Several rules were allegedly violated in giving concessions to the firm.

Some renowned companies, like Singapore’s famed Sentosa Island amusement park, were disqualified from bidding for this project.

In the Film-city project, realty major Parsvnath was allotted the 30-acre land in Sarangpur village of the union territory for Rs.1.91 billion (Rs.191 crore). The company, which had deposited nearly Rs.480 million, is now seeking the money back with interest. It has excused itself on the ground that the land is not free from encumbrances.

Chandigarh’s most senior bureaucrat, Adviser to the UT Administrator Pradip Mehra, who has been at loggerheads with administrator Rodrigues over these projects and other administrative issues, had recently put on record that the Film-city project be handed over to a central agency for a thorough probe.

Bollywood director and actor Satish Kaushik, who was roped in by Parsvnath for the Film-city project, has now raised objections at being kept out of the loop when the builder opted out.

“For me, the Film-city was a dream project. I roped in people from the film industry in Bollywood and south India for this. I had coordinated with film schools, studios, fashion designers and dance schools for this project. How can the administration decide on the fate of the project without even informing me?” Kaushik asked.

Kaushik has threatened to move the court on this matter. “How can they ignore me in this when I have made the presentations about the project,” Kaushik said.

But administration officials here said that they had no direct dealing with Kaushik.

“The administration is dealing with Parsvnath on this project. We have nothing to do with Kaushik,” an official said.

The third phase of the IT Park has also run into trouble with influential farmhouse owners and farmers alleging that the administration was behaving like a property dealer in acquiring their land for lower prices and selling it off to builders for rates that were several times higher.

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