M A I N   N E W S

Punjab offers land to liquor baron at throwaway price
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
A 100 to 125 per cent increase in real estate prices in Chandigarh and the surrounding areas notwithstanding, the Punjab Government is all set to allot 50 acres of prime land to the company of a liquor baron at a throwaway price of Rs 40 lakh an acre in the Industrial Focal Point, Mohali.

The beneficiary — A.B. Motions Private Limited, a company of liquor baron Ponty Chadha — is being allotted 50 acres of land under off-the-shelf scheme for setting up an integrated mix-use industrial park. The allottee would be free to use the land for industrial plots, shopping malls, multiplexes and commercial sites according to an approved policy.

“Yes, land is being allotted to A.B. Motion Private Ltd. The Cabinet subcommittee on allotment of land under off-the-shelf scheme has already given its approval,” says Mr S.C. Aggarwal, Secretary, Industries, Punjab, holding that land to “Quark Media, too, had been allotted under the same scheme.

Interestingly, when PUDA auctioned commercial sites at SAS Nagar a few weeks ago, one such site, measuring just 250 sq yds, fetched a of Rs 2.65 crore.

Normally commercial sites and sites for multiplexes and shopping malls are allotted only through auctions. For example, a recent auction of similar properties in Vasant Kunj in Delhi earned the state exchequer a whopping Rs 956 crore against the reserve price of Rs 300 crore. Cash-strapped Punjab, however, has opted to allot this prime land on a notional reserve price of Rs 40 lakh an acre.

Quark, which again has to commercially exploit the land allotted to it for Quarkgarh, paid Rs 20 lakh an acre. Once the allotment to A.B. Motions Private Limited is approved, it may petition the state government to reduce the notional price to Rs 20 lakh an acre.

The recent auctions of commercial as well residential properties in Chandigarh, too, witnessed an a 100 to 125 per cent hike compared to the auction money earned for similar properties last year.

“Under the scheme,” explains Mr Aggarwal, “the beneficiary can use 10 per cent of the total land for commercial purposes, 10 per cent for shopping mals, another 20 per cent for multiplexes and 30 per cent for residential purposes.

As per prevalent market land prices, after buying an acre for Rs 40 lakh, the beneficiary would be able to sell sites for shopping malls, multiplexes, commercial sites and industrial plots to earn a minimum of Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore an acre.

Normally, the allotment of land for setting up industrial projects under the off-the-shelf scheme of plots measuring two acres and above is made by a committee headed by the Chief Secretary.

To approve the allotment, a meeting of the off-the-shelf scheme allotment committee has been convened for December 23.

Besides, the beneficiaries of this mix-use industrial park will have 100 per cent exemption from payment of entertainment tax for 10 years, the minimum investment limit on the individual projects of the company will be only Rs 10 crore (relaxed against the previous minimum ceiling of Rs 20 crore), 100 per cent exemption from payment of stamp duty in the case of first sale of the property within the project by the promoter company in seven years.

Besides, the payment terms will be made softer, relaxations will be made for the FAR height and ground coverage, relaxations will be made to permit 24-hour operations of shopping malls licences for sale of hard liquor will be made by the Excise Department.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on November 17 for setting up four mix-use industrial parks in different cities of Punjab. A letter of intent in this connection was issued last month.

Unlike other states where industrial land is allotted for multi purpose use, the governments impose restrictions regarding generation of employment for local people. The price of the land is in accordance with the percentage of people to be employed in such projects. But in this case, no such condition or restriction is being imposed.


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