By Raman Kirpal
Some respite for Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadraand DLF! The alleged Vadra-DLF nexus is not so apparent in the 350-acre land deal at Gurgaon that the Haryana government had struck with DLF through international competitive bids in 2009.
However, the 3.5 acre Manesar plot which Vadra sold to DLF in a sweetheart deal in 2008 certainly smells fishy. It remains dubious and unexplained, as Firstpost has noted repeatedly. (Read here and here and here).
Documents accessed by Firstpost reveal that Arvind Kejriwal may have erred in facts by linking a Rs 1,700 crore DLF deal in Haryana as quid pro quofor various favours shown to Vadra in other real estate deals, including the purchase of flats from DLF at undervalued rates. Kejriwal had raised five questions against the deal. All his claims can, however, be contradicted with documents, which narrate the sequence of events leading to the 350-acre land deal with DLF.
Contrary to public perceptions, this 350 acres of land belonged to the panchayat (and not the farmers) of village Wazirabad in district Gurgaon. The state government acquired it through a notification in 2003. After the acquisition, the land was initially meant for industrial infrastructure and residential purposes and was jointly owned by HSIIDC (Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporations Ltd) and HUDA (Haryana Urban Development Authority).
Later the Haryana government decided to set up a world-class recreation and leisure project on this 350-acre plot. The plot went to DLF through an international competitive bid for Rs 1,700 crore in 2009. Three years after the allotment, DLF is yet to get ‘possession’ because the state government went to the Supreme Court for necessary clearances.
The Supreme Court had referred it to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) for its recommendations. The CEC has recommended in favour of the project with certain conditions and now the case is pending with the Supreme Court.
Kejriwal’s first allegation was that the so-called international bid held by the Haryana government was rigged.
In his words: “The Haryana government had introduced some conditions at the time of evaluating technical bids. Three parties—DLF, Country Heights and Unitech—had bid for this project. Financial bids of Unitech and Country Heights were not even opened. Their bids were rejected at the technical stage saying that they did not have experience in constructing and maintaining a golf course. Doesn’t it raise suspicion whether this was done to reject other parties and to grant this contract to DLF? It is understood that the other two bids were much more than DLF’s bid. This means that the government suffered a loss by giving this 350-acre plot to DLF.”
Two documents accessed by Firstpost prove that Kejriwal is wrong in claiming that the rules for the bids were changed at the last minute. The state government had first advertised for the 350-acre plot in January 2009. The advertisement had clearly stated two eligibility rules for the technical bids.
One, a company or a consortium should have net worth of Rs 500 crore. And second, the consortium should have experience of developing 18-hole golf courses in the past. And if a bidder fails to fulfill this technical bid, its financial bid will not even be opened.
Only DLF had bid for the project. To see if it can get better bids, the state government again advertised on 20 July 2009 with the same rules. The only changes made in the second advertisement were that the government would obtain statutory clearances in respect of the project land and the successful bidder would be permitted to use 20 percent of the golf course area for residential purposes.
Country Height Holdings Berhad, Malaysia, and a consortium led by Unitech also joined DLF in the race for this bid. Both – Country Height and Unitech – however, failed in their technical bids. The bid documents of both the companies failed to show a net worth of Rs 500 crore and their papers did not reflect experience in constructing an 18-hole golf course in the past.
Both the bidders, however, were reconsulted and asked if they could still fulfill the conditions of the technical bid. When they failed to do so, the state government rejected their bids and accepted DLF’s. The reserve price quoted was Rs 11,978 per square metre, while DLF had offered Rs 12,000 per square metre in its bid.
Thus the rules of the technical bid were mentioned in the very first advertisement published in January 2009 and they were never changed at any stage of bidding. Interestingly, the media had highlighted this deal as the most expensive one in 2009, since the developer (DLF) was allowed to construct on only 92 out of the 350 acres of land and it agreed to pay Rs 1,700 crore.
Kejriwal’s second argument is HUDA and HSIIDC, owners of the 350-acre plot, normally use their respective lands for residential and industrial purposes. But in this case, they simply transferred their land to DLF.
Since 1985, 90 percent of the land acquired in Gurgaon has been sold to private developers. Both HUDA and HSIIDC have allotted land to private builders in the past. And all necessary permissions are sought before handing over possession of the land.
Besides, in this case, the state government has not yet given possession of the land to DLF. The government has sought the Supreme Court’s permission to do so for setting up a world-class recreation and leisure project. And the government is still waiting for the court’s nod before handing over possession to DLF.
Kejriwal’s third argument is that 91.97 acres out of 350 were forest land and 161.03 acres were under Aravali plantations. This land can’t be used for construction and yet the Haryana government has given all this land to DLF without even getting these permissions.
There is no change in land use, even after selling 350 acres of the land. The CEC, in its report, has recommended that the ground coverage of the residential buildings, commercial buildings, recreational buildings, community facility buildings and roads will not exceed 97.72 acres out of the 350.72-acre project area. The area of 206.92 acres is to be kept under green landscape, including a golf course.
Besides, the Haryana government is expected to take all the necessary clearances over forest land from the Central government. And this is part of normal practice for the state government to seek all the necessary clearances.
Kejriwal’s fourth charge is that “no environmental impact assessment was done.” The process is believed to have been started but was cancelled midway.
Facts are that CEC chairman PV Jayakrishnan, along with two other members, had personally gone for the site inspection. The 350-acre plot has 10,599 trees and 90 percent of them belong to Prosapsis and Acacia species.
The study notes that the balance 1,370 trees include species such as Dalbergia Sisoo (86 trees), Ficus Religiosa (30), Azadirachta Indica (276), Zizyphus Mauritiana (27), Kigelia Pinnata (76) – and this list just goes on.
The CEC has approved a plan, which makes it mandatory for the developer to plant 15,000 to 18,000 trees in the project area.
The requirement of water for the project has been estimated to be 8,862.5 kilolitres per day at full development. The CEC makes it mandatory that the project should not be allowed to draw or use any ground water in view of the critical ground water situation in Gurgaon and in the Aravali region in general.
And the last argument put forth by Kejriwal is that “HUDA had acquired this land a few years back from the farmers of Gurgaon saying it would be used for ‘public purposes’ for various sectors in Gurgaon, constructing roads, etc. However, now this land was being transferred to DLF, which is not public purpose, but for private profit. This was a fraud on those farmers who had earlier sacrificed their land.”
The land, however, was acquired from the village panchayat. According to the state government notification, public purpose, as notified, means the development of recreational/leisure projects and other public utilities.
“The CEC is of the view that because the project is located in the midst of a highly developed and urbanised area, the same may be favourably considered provided it is ensured that adequate remedial and compensatory measures are put in place’’, the CEC report said.
And the CEC observes that since the Haryana government is going to make Rs 1,700 crore plus Rs 300-400 crore on registration and stamp duty out of this deal, it will undertake compensatory afforestation over 407 acres of land adjacent to a highly eco-sensitive Lake Badhkhal.
A visit to the 350-acre of plot in Wazirabad village reveals that not even a single brick has been laid so far. The entire area has grass and the 10,599 trees – as enumerated during the environment impact assessment. There is not a single air-conditioned apartment or independent house as claimed by Arvind Kejriwal.
Courtesy : http://www.firstpost.com