Prime civic body land goes abegging

Record of land given on lease to Society Cinema untraceable, property worth Rs15-20 crore

Prime civic body land goes abegging

Erstwhile Society Cinema where a commercial complex has come up, in Ludhiana. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 24

The Municipal Corporation here seems to be in the habit of going into selective amnesia when it comes to taking care of its land and properties, given on rent or long lease, as most of such properties, including chunks of prime land and built-up properties, remain under unlawful possession of occupants even when they default in payment of rent for years together or where lease period has expired.

In a similar case, involving prime land worth several crores given to owner of Society Cinema Amrik Singh on long lease way back in 1956 and upon failure of the MC to take back possession of the said land even after expiry of lease, the Vigilance Department had ordered an enquiry.

In an official letter (VD-V1040/28/2020-4V1/I/16395 dated March 20, 2020) the Vigilance Department has forwarded a complaint filed by Rohit Sabharwal, president of Council of RTI Activists, to the Additional Chief Secretary, Local Government Department, Punjab, with the directions that the matter be got investigated and action taken thereupon be intimated to the Vigilance Department.

Sabharwal, in a complaint filed to the Punjab Chief Secretary, has alleged that certain officials of the tehbazari wing of the MC were conniving with the present owners of the cinema land (now converted into a commercial complex) to enable them encroach upon a piece of prime government land with market value of Rs 15-20 crore and thereby causing loss to public exchequer.

In the complaint, Sabharwal also charged the MC officials concerned with failure to provide details of lease agreement and record pertaining to taking back possession of land after expiry of lease period which he had demanded under the Right to Information Act.

In this regard, the complainant quoted an office letter (386/TBS dated December 24, 2019) received from the Public Information Officer-cum-Tehbazari Superintendent of MC Zone-A which said that information desired by the applicant under RTI Act could not be provided as no record or file pertaining to land given to Society Cinema on lease was available in the office. The letter just mentioned that the said land was given on lease to Amrik Singh in 1956.

While demanding a thorough probe into the scam, Sabharwal had demanded that corrupt officials involved in misappropriation of land be identified and necessary steps initiated to take back possession of the piece of land from the unlawful occupant.

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