M A I N   N E W S

‘Punished’ for spilling beans, says Ratna
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
Even as the city has become a haven for “land mafia” that enjoys the patronage of politicians and bureaucrats, Ms Ratna, former Chairperson, Punjab State Social Welfare Board, today spilled the beans on the burning issue by alleging that she was “unceremoniously removed” from the post of Chairperson of the Improvement Trust, Amritsar.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Ms Ratna said she had clear instructions from the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to give clean and transparent administration during her stint as Chairperson of the Improvement Trust. However, “land mafia” wanted “undue favours” which she had refused. “As a result, I was ousted” from the Improvement Trust.

The facts collected by The Tribune pointed out that Ms Ratna had refused to grant exemption to the controversial Veer Enclave, 32-acre prime land, to accommodate a private coloniser in the 188-acre New Amritsar extension scheme on the Jalandhar -Amritsar GT road that reportedly irked the senior leaders of her own party, including Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister, Local Bodies.

However, the exemption from the duly notified government approved New Amritsar scheme was just the tip of the iceberg. After her removal, the “land mafia” became active and was instrumental in getting the land use of prime lands in the posh localities, including Ranjit Avenue (A and C Blocks). She said the “threat by the land mafia” was so “prophetic” that it ultimately led to her removal as Chairperson. The statement of Ms Ratna is likely to give a new turn to the murky land scam that had rocked the Punjab Assembly.

She said during her stint as the Chairperson of the Improvement Trust, she had got the new scheme duly notified and approved. She had even got a site plan sanctioned for setting up a new residential colony, adjacent to the 304-New Amritsar Scheme. She said the site plans, including a motel, five-acre plot for a five-star hotel and multiplex, besides construction of a Biotechnology Park had been finalised. Interestingly, the influential colonisers had even succeeded in getting an approval from PUDA but the timely intervention had thwarted their move at the last minute.

Earlier in another case, a private builder was granted exemption from the land, which was declared by Ms Ratna as a “part of C Block colony” of Ranjit Avenue. The record shows that despite clear instructions by Ms Ratna, the land was being disposed of at phenomenal rates by changing the land use.

Though the Chairman, Local Bodies, had denied the allegations but the resolution passed by Mr Jugal Kishor Sharma (the successor of Ms Ratna) has clearly indicated the intention of the state and trust in giving benefit to the private coloniser.

However, Mr Sharma has denied the allegations of “favouritism” to the coloniser. He claimed that the exemption had been given as per rules.

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