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Mega Projects
UT’s bid to justify deals backfires
3 HC judges named as ‘affected’ persons in the proposed land acquisition for Phase III of IT Park deny owning any land
Raveen Thukral
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Chandigarh Administration’s attempt to justify its highly controversial land acquisition policy for its ‘mega projects’ by issuing a public notice today seems to have backfired.

Three senior retired High Court judges, Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta (former Chief Justice of Kerala High Court), Justice GC Garg and Justice Amarbir Singh Gill, who have been named in the notice as the “affected” persons in the proposed land acquisition for Phase III of the IT Park, have categorically denied owning even “an inch” of land there. The infuriated judges have accused the administration of “mischief in a bid to cover its own misdeeds”. They are planning to write to the administration and the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking an unconditional apology.

Pushed to the wall following a series of exposes highlighting the lopsided land sale policy for Administrator Gen (Retd) SF Rodrigues’ mega projects, which have even been questioned by Adviser Pradeep Mehra, the administration today issued a public notice in some English dailies claiming that these “allegations” were motivated. Apart from naming three judges, the notice carries names of at least half a dozen bureaucrats, who own land in the proposed Phase III of the IT Park, which is to be acquired soon.

By naming these people, the administration has tried to justify its controversial land acquisition policy by highlighting the fact that the landowners were not “poor” farmers, but influential people. Though the notice does not say so, it shrewdly conveys an impression that the ongoing agitation against the acquisition was being carried at the behest of the influential people who own “big chunks of land of varying sizes”.

When contacted, Justice Gupta said: “I don’t own even an inch of land in Chandigarh or around it.” He said he had bought some land in 1982 and had sold off the same in 1994 through a legally valid deed.

“I fail to understand how the administration has put my name in the notice. They didn’t even bother to verify it from me,” said an infuriated Justice Gupta.

He said he would write to the administration tomorrow and seek a clarification from them.

Maintaining that his land had already been acquired for Phase I of the IT Park in 2001, Justice Amarbir Singh Gill said: “I don’t have anything to do with Phase III acquisitions.”

Maintaining that the administration was trying to spread rumours to hide their own shortcomings, Justice Gill expressed shock at the events. “I will send them a notice for amending their statement,” he added.

Justice Garg expressed surprise on his name figuring in the list and said that he did not own any land in the city else for his 450 sq yard house in Sector 10.

The public notice also says that of the 36 farms involved, only six were inherited and the remaining were acquired by individuals at prices ranging between Rs 12,000 to Rs 18,000.

When contacted, the UT’s Director Public Relations, RS Verma, said his office issued the public notice. However, no senior official was willing to comment on the contents of the notice.



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