East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal (left) chairs the meeting at the district collectorate on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The appropriate machinery committee (AMC), a government-sponsored panel that decides on the allotment of Tata Steel sublease land, on Wednesday decided the steel major would have to submit a report on whether any of the 49 plots were being used for a purpose other than what was originally documented.
A meeting of the five-member AMC, comprising government and Tata Steel representatives, was convened at East Singhbhum district collectorate after nine years to probe into alleged violations of sublease clauses in 49 of the 59 allotments.
In layman terms, a violation in this case is when a lessee takes permission to open a hotel but starts a shopping mall instead.
The panel included East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal, joint secretary of state land reforms and revenue department Surender Kumar, East Singhbhum deputy development commissioner Lalmohan Mahto, Tata Steel legal head Meena Lal and Tata Steel vice-president (corporate services) Sunil Bhaskaran.
After the meeting, panel member Lalmohan Mahto said the majority overruled the objections of the two Tata Steel representatives on the fresh report.
Tata Steel representatives had argued there was no reason to submit a fresh report on sublease violations as the matter was subjudice in Jharkhand High Court since 2012.
But, as the matter stands, the company has been to furnish a detailed report on all the 49 subleases with details such as name of the applicant, allotted land with ward numbers and the purpose the land was allotted for — industrial, commercial or domestic — as soon as possible.
Incidentally, principal secretary of land reforms and revenue department J.B. Tubid had on February 6, 2014, directed the AMC panel to probe into charges of lease violation especially after Kolhan commissioner Alok Goyal earlier this year apprised him of violations of sublease clauses in 49 cases.
For the record, between 2006 and 2011, after Tata Steel lease was renewed by the state government in 2005, 59 parties had been granted the steel major’s sublease by the district administration after a nod from the AMC.
Most investors had taken the plots to set up malls, market-cum-office complexes, hotels, parking lots, technical institutions and small industries.
Trouble brewed in 2012 when then state land and revenue minister Mathura Prasad said the way the sub-lessees had been “unfairly” allotted land. He also added that Jharkhand would get paltry revenue.
As fears of revenue losses mounted, in September 2012, then chief minister Arjun Munda directed a clamp on all ongoing constructions and a probe on all the allotments.