Sunday, February 28, 2016

Alleged faulty allocation of land to ‘biz partners of CM’s daughter’ lands in HC

The issue of allegedly alloting land near Gir lion sanctuary in Amreli to CM Anandiben Patel's daughter Anar's alleged business partners at a concessional rate has landed at Gujarat High Court. Gir-Somnath district based RTI Activists Sangathan (RAS), an association of RTI activists, filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking high court intervention in the matter. The plea is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday. The PIL has named Wildwood Resorts and Realities Private Limited, Chief Secretary, Secretary of revenue department, Principal Conservator of Forests, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited, District Collector, Mamlatdar and circle officer of the Amreli district.

RAS president Razak Baloch told Mirror, "Our organisation had taken up the issue before the government about the wrongly carried out allotment of land to Wildwood Resorts but when it yielded no result, we filed a PIL, which is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday." The state-level body, that got registered three years ago, has taken up several corruption-related issues in the past. While its registered office is in Gir-Somnath, it also has an office in Gandhinagar. He said, "There are norms in place for allotting government land and according to a government notification of 1997, it cannot allot land without conducting public auction. There also are norms barring commercial activities in protected wildlife areas."

The PIL sought high court intervention, raising issue of the conflict of interest as the 250-acre land was given to Wildwood Resorts, a company owned by alleged business partners of Anar Patel at an official rate of Rs 15 per square metre against the rate of Rs 180 per square meter. The land is in Gujarat's Amreli district, next to the lion sanctuary at Gir, making it an attractive commercial proposition. The PIL with bulky sets of the documents has alleged that the forest, revenue and tourism departments have wrongly allocated the land by giving concessions to the company in violation of the norms. Wildwood Resorts is owned by Dakshesh Shah and Amol Shripal Sheth, alleged business partners of Anar Patel. However, Anar Patel earlier dismissed the allegations in a post put up on her Facebook wall. Shah and Sheth also denied the allegations and said they did nothing wrong. Nimish Kapadia, lawyer for RAS, however, refused to divulge the details saying the matter was sub judice.

Nalin Kotadiya, BJP MLA from Dhari constituency, has come out openly against the CM. He said the state government had approved Rs 10 crore for a bridge in a village with a population of 200 people. "This is just not done. The bridges and roads in this area are developed to make a grand way to the proposed site of Wildwood in Khamala village," he said. Kotadiya will raise the question on the development projects near Khambha in the upcoming assembly session. He alleged that while farmers are not allowed to even dig a borewell because of the sanctuary, Wildwoods is being allowed to go ahead with construction work.

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