Sunday, February 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Shopping complex on green space
“Deal” on change of land use to be reviewed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 1
The resolution of the Municipal Corporation to change the land use of the prime ‘open space’, near the District Courts, passed by the General House has raised many eyebrows. Interestingly, one of the four buyers of the land is a gazetted officer of the Local Department.

On learning about the ‘foul play’ in the ‘deal’ Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, said he would review the case as it was only a high powered committee of the Local Government which could take any decision on it. Mr Sunil Dutti, Mayor, said the decision to change the land use of the scheme was taken by the previous Akali government. He said the Municipal Corporation would declare the resolution ‘null and void’ if the Local Government disapproved the same.

Earlier, the local Municipal Corporation had pleaded that the use of the land could not be changed as it would create a traffic hazard. The buyers had purchased the land for a song after passing the scheme which had approved it to be ‘green land’. A note of the corporation reads: “In this scheme, the land in dispute was reserved for use as green space. If the owners were aggrieved they would have raised objections”.

The local corporation had also raised an objection over the construction of the shops. It had pleaded that “If the property was located at a considerable distance from the traffic roundabout, it was found possible to amend the scheme. But the disputed land being close to the busy roundabout, such a relief could not be granted”. However, it is intriguing that the same house which had rejected the case of changing the land use had passed a resolution now.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a former BJP MLA, sought a high-level probe into the ‘deal’ and asked the Chief Minister to take strict action against those who had gained ‘monetary benefits’ for changing the land use. She alleged that a big politician of the ruling party was behind the resolution which was passed by the corporation.

Earlier, the buyers had purchased the land for a song (Rs 1.11 lakh) in the year 1998. There were reports that the buyers had managed to get a no objection certificate from an assistant engineer (buildings), Mr P.K. Goel, who denied that he had ever issued such an affidavit. He had contested that his signatures were forged. Later the engineer was placed under suspension and his signatures were got verified. It was confirmed that the certificate was not signed by Mr Goel. It was alleged that the documents were ‘forged’ by one of the buyers to secure water and electricity connections.

The then Commissioner, Mr S.P. Singh, had also reported that the building (nine-b) was passed much before the purchase of the land and hence they (the buyers) had no right to claim that the use of the land be changed.

Interestingly, the Municipal Corporation had dispatched Rs 29,950 as compensation to each of the four owners of the land under registered cover. However, they had refused to accept the same.

The note prepared by the Municipal Town Planner had also mentioned that the plea of the buyers was rejected by even the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the decision was passed in favour of the Municipal Corporation.

The record of the corporation has clearly mentioned that the original owners had never raised any objection over the ‘green space’ left in the town planning scheme and hence the new buyers could not be permitted to raise any construction.

It is pertinent to mention here that most of the parks and ‘green belts’ of the city had already been usurped by land grabbers and there are few parks left which could be used by the children as playgrounds.


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