Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday furnished purported evidence of how Haryana’s Congress government had tweaked rules to benefit DLF, trying to back up his allegations that the realty major had secured favours by sweetening land deals for Robert Vadra.
The India Against Corruption leader demanded a special investigation team made up by retired Supreme Court judges to probe the alleged collusion between DLF and Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law. He also demanded that Haryana’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda government come out with a white paper on its dealings with the real estate company.
The following are the main charges and “evidence” furnished by Kejriwal on Tuesday and the responses from the Haryana government and DLF:
The Haryana govt favoured DLF with a 30-acre plot originally meant for a hospital. The business proximity between Robert Vadra and DLF resulted in this largesse.
Kejriwal cited a February 2011 Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment in which the court ordered demolition of a special economic zone (SEZ) that DLF was building. DLF had bought the plot from East India Hotels Ltd. The plot was initially given to East India Hotels for constructing a hospital but was purchased by DLF to build the SEZ.
In its order, the court observed that “facts alone are enough to establish the nexus of DLF Ltd with the government to grab the property in question” and that “granting of necessary approvals for setting up of SEZ was an attempt to cover the whole mala fide action of” the Haryana government and that the facts “indicate only to one conclusion i.e. there was a nexus between the government and the respondent nos 4 and 5 (DLF Ltd) to grab the land in question and everything was facilitated to give the same a legal cover”.
The court wondered “why the state of Haryana is showering favour on respondent nos 4 and 5 (DLF)” and further noted that the land was acquired on the pretext of serving a public purpose. In its order, the court cited a previous order of 2010 where it had “found that the land in question in that case was acquired in the pretext of public purpose with the real object of handing it over to DLF”.
The court imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on the Haryana government and DLF.
The high court order has been stayed by the Supreme Court in orders on June 20, 2011, and September 26, 2011. “The matter is sub judice and is awaiting hearing,” it said.
The director-general of the Haryana Town and Country Planning department, T.C. Gupta, said the land had been released to East India Hotels more than 16 years ago and it was given permission to sell the land to DLF “after following due process of law”.
“No land belonging to the government or the Haryana Urban Development Authority was allotted or transferred to either DLF or East India Hotels,” he said.
Gupta said East India Hotels had applied for construction of hospital/nursing home/Oberoi hotel management institute and a health farm plus accommodation for executives on 18 acres. Permission to change land use was granted on July 17, 1984. “This project however, was not completed by the land owner,” Gupta said.
He said acquisition proceedings were started on January 30, 1989. The proceedings were challenged by East India Hotels in 1990, Gupta said.
On the request of East India Hotels, a decision was taken to exclude 30 of the 37 acres from acquisition proceedings and this land was released on September 19, 1995. “Therefore, no release of land was done during the last 10 years,” Gupta said. (The Congress-led Hooda government came to power in March 2005.)
Gupta said that in 2005, a representation was received from East India Hotels and DLF that the former had not been able to use the land and requested the government’s permission to sell the land.
The request for sale was examined by the law department and it was opined that the government can grant permission for sale, subject to certain conditions, he said.
Vadra had 50 per cent share in the SEZ
Kejriwal said DLF SEZ Holdings was incorporated in February 2007. He said Vadra’s company, North India IT Parks, acquired almost 50 per cent of DLF SEZ’s shareholding. Vadra sold the share back to DLF in 2009. “What role did Vadra play in that one year when DLF SEZ was in Vadra’s control?” asked Kejriwal.
In DLF SEZ Holdings, 50 per cent shareholding was acquired by North India IT Parks in October 2008 at the face value of Rs 2.5 lakh. The 50 per cent shares were subsequently bought back from North India IT Parks in September 2009 fully at face value of Rs 2.5 lakh as the SEZ could not be developed because of the downturn.
No benefit or gain was made by Vadra or DLF. “We wish to clarify that this proposal had nothing to do with the SEZ developed or being developed by DLF (including the one referred above). Vadra neither had nor has any interest in the various SEZs of DLF in any manner,” the company said.
Haryana govt tweaked rules to give 350 acres to DLF
Kejriwal said the plot was owned by Huda (the Haryana Urban Development Authority) and HSIIDC (the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Authority) to be used for public purposes. Much of this is forest and cannot be used for any other purpose, said Kejriwal.
He added: “The Haryana government has assumed the responsibility of seeking permissions from all central and state government authorities to facilitate it for DLF. Interestingly, the Haryana government has given all this land to DLF without even getting these permissions.”
Kejriwal said the land was awarded to DLF under a suspicious tendering process as the other two bidders were rejected at the technical stage ostensibly because they didn’t have experience in constructing and maintaining golf courses. “This condition was introduced at the time of evaluating technical bids and not at the beginning of the tendering process,” Kejriwal said.
We had confirmed that this land was allotted through an international bidding tender. This matter is sub judice before the high court of Punjab and Haryana. We stand by our statement.
Due process of law was followed in granting DLF the plot and the bidding process was transparent.
Master plan was changed
Kejriwal said the Haryana government changed the master plan to increase population density from 250 to 625 persons per hectare to benefit DLF Phase V of the Gurgaon Manesar Urban Complex Plan. “The density has been increased in many other parts of Gurgaon. However, there hasn't been such a phenomenal increase in density anywhere else.”
The project was approved way back in 1995. In subsequent revisions of the master plan, no changes in FAR or density have taken place. Hence, no benefit has accrued to DLF by the said revisions in the master plan.
No undue favour was provided specifically to DLF.
Land acquisition cancelled in Manesar to favour DLF
Kejriwal said the government favoured DLF by cancelling the land acquisition process after its companies managed to buy land at a cheaper price from farmers in Manesar.
DLF or any of its companies never purchased any land in the residential sectors of Manesar as referred by Kejriwal. The acquisition proceedings were withdrawn by the Haryana government on August 24, 2007. DLF acquired development rights much later (April 11, 2008) from other developers to develop two licensed group housing projects. These group housing projects are under development after obtaining all approvals.
Compiled by Archis Mohan and Gajinder Singh