Ludhiana improvement trust e-auction runs into trouble

Ludhiana improvement trust e-auction runs into trouble

Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 14

After cancellation of bids for three shop-cum-flats (SCFs) in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, sold by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) in e-auction conducted on December 5 last year, LIT Chairman Raman Balasubramaniam has gone in a discordant mode and a situation of showdown seems imminent.

Chairman justifies final bids of 3 SCFs 

  • Talking to The Tribune, the LIT Chairman justified the final bids of these three SCFs, saying that while other SCFs facing the main road or corners had fetched a higher prices, these three properties which had a locational disadvantage (located in the back row) had also yielded an average 10 per cent higher price over the reserve price of Rs1.46 crore each.

While the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Local Government, Punjab, has cited comparatively low bid price for the three commercial properties behind cancellation of the bid, the Chairman has taken the stand that cancellation of bids for three properties, out of a total of 32 properties sold in the e-auction, was tantamount to casting aspersions on the LIT authorities and other members of the auction committee.

Through a letter, the Directorate of Local Bodies, Punjab, had intimated LIT that auction of SCF no. 62, 67 and 69 in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, sold in e-auction on December 5, 2019, had been cancelled on the grounds of comparatively less bid amount. Interestingly, auction of only these three properties was cancelled whereas the Trust had sold 25 commercial properties and seven plots in the e-auction for more than Rs 31 crore.

Taking umbrage to the selective action of the government, more so when the very integrity of the high-level committee of officials conducting the e-auction under the overall supervision of the chairman, was questioned, Balasubramaniam took a stand at a personal meeting with the Additional Chief Secretary, Local Government, at Chandigarh (on Jan 7) and followed by an official letter to Directorate to stick to the ground that selective cancellation of e-auction was bad in law and could have adverse impact in such auctions to be conducted in future.

Amid this controversy, the LIT Chairman also took a decision to first postpone the e-auction scheduled to be held on January 9 by 10 days and later called off the offer for e-auction.

Talking to The Tribune, the LIT Chairman justified the final bids of these three SCFs, saying that while other SCFs facing the main road or corners had fetched a higher prices, these three properties which had a locational disadvantage (located in the back row) had also yielded an average 10 per cent higher price over the reserve price of Rs 1.46 crore each.

Without taking names, he attributed the development (partial cancellation of auction) to certain politically connected property dealers and Trust officials having vested interests while adding that he would steadfastly continue to fight against this unholy nexus which was out to tarnish the image of the Trust and its functionaries.

Balasubramaniam said the Trust had requested the government to reconsider the decision and accord approval to the sale of these three properties. “We are awaiting final decision of the government and would act accordingly,” he added.

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