The Telegraph
Tuesday , November 27 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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HC leeway on Tata lease

It is a ray of hope for stalled projects in the city estimated to be worth over Rs 1,500 crore, but it comes with a rider.

Jharkhand High Court on Monday asked various entities, which had challenged a state government notification to stop all construction work on Tata Steel’s sub-leased plots in Jamshedpur, to file affidavits, giving undertakings that they would resume work at their own risk.

The court observed that all such entities, including XLRI and Jusco, must mention in the affidavits that they would not be aggrieved by the outcome in the case and would not claim any equity from the state government if the verdict was in the negative.

While this may mean a softening of the earlier rigid stance and offers promoters of projects a chance to go ahead, it also categorically states that the private parties will bear onus for any and everything that may go wrong.

The court will again hear the matter on December 5.

Jusco and XLRI filed their writ petitions on October 4. Five other institutions — Premium Residency, Hi-Tech Heritage, Super Centre, Fortune Hotel Centre Point and Ashiana Housing and Finance India Limited — and an individual, Anil Chopra, whose projects had been stalled, filed petitions the next day.

They argued that stopping construction, which includes work on a mall, hotels, a multi-layered parking lot and housing projects, would hamper the growth of the city.

In the state notification issued on September 18, chief minister Arjun Munda had ordered halt of all construction work on the 482-acre surplus land sub-leased by the Tatas to private parties, based on the findings of an inquiry committee headed by development commissioner Debashish Gupta. The committee noted that the sub-leasing deals — to 59 firms in all — signed between 2005 and 2007 led to a paltry revenue of Rs 11.59 crore.

CM secretariat insiders revealed that Munda had taken this decision after the Debashish Gupta committee found irregularities. Then, East Singhbhum administration enforced clampdown on change in physical structure of projects.

Builder Association of India (Jamshedpur) president K.K. Singh had expressed dismay, pointing out that investments to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore would be hit.

As the Tatas protested, the case took a political turn. In October, Speaker C.P. Singh raised questions on sub-lease anomalies.

Will stalled projects revive or hang fire till December?