Congress accuses Gujarat minister of land scam

Gandhinagar, April 25 (IANS) The Congress Monday accused Gujarat Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel of allowing a Mumbai-based company to sell two lakh square meters of land, allotted to it to set up an industry, to another business firm in flagrant violation of the rules.

Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil said this took place despite the legal opinion of all officers that the government should take possession of the land. ‘There is no provision in law authorising the revenue minister to allow such land to be sold directly to a businessman,’ he added.

Terming it a multi-billion rupee scandal, he said that all the facts pertaining to the case had been obtained through Right to Information (RTI) and sought a high-level inquiry into the scandal.

Giving details of the case, he said the Mumbai-based Indigold Refinery was given the land and had to start production from the proposed unit within a stipulated period, failing which the government had to take possession of the land.

Indigold Refinery, however, did not start the project and decided to sell the land to an alumina refinery. The revenue minister threw all rules to the winds and allowed it to sell the land, Gohil said.

Gohil released to the newsmen the papers of the deal in which all government officers had objected to the deal but the minister over-ruled objections and allowed the deal as an exceptional case.

An officer had also suggested that there should be amendment in the policy and the government should collect 50 percent of the unearned income. However, this was rejected by the principal secretary, revenue, who said that as per law, the government should take possession of land and then it can sell it to the other party at market price. Even this was overruled by the minister who Nov 4, 2009, remarked that as per earlier instructions, the company should be allowed to sell the land directly.