Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is set for a rough ride ahead over a controversial land allotment in Gurugram to the amusement park Appu Ghar under his Congress government.
The Prime Minister's office has instructed the state's Manohar Lal Khattar-led administration to take appropriate action in the matter amid allegations of malpractices.
The Millennium City, which gives Haryana the lion's share of its revenues, has long been the nerve centre of land scams as it is a major hub of housing and infrastructure projects in Haryana that is otherwise known for its agriculture.
When contacted by Mail Today, Hooda's office refused to comment on the issue.
'TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION'
The department of personnel and training (DoPT) under the Centre sent a letter to the chief minister's office (CMO) on April 5, directing that a complaint made by Gurugram-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Harinder Dhingra against Hooda be placed before CM Khattar for "appropriate action".
"As the direction comes from the Prime Minister's Office, so appropriate action will surely be instituted by the government," said the chief minister's officer on special duty Jawahar Yadav.
Haryana Urban Development Authority had allotted on lease 58 acres of prime land allegedly at throwaway rates to International Recreation & Amusement Limited (IRAL), the holding company of the Appu Ghar, for development of amusement parks in 2009.
This included 25 acres in Sector 29 and 23 acres in Sector 52-A and 53-A of Gurugram.
"We can show all the documents including the tender documents which are in order," said Rakesh Babbar, director of International Recreation & Amusement Limited.
"Our water park is one of the best in India and we are doing very well. We have opened Smash recently of which Sachin Tendulkar was earlier the brand ambassador. We are not able to get an atmosphere that is conducive for doing business. See his (Harinder Dhingra's) record: there is not one person of consequence in Gurugram that he has not complained against or he has not filed an RTI against."
'LAND FOR PUBLIC PROJECT USED'
Dhingra made his complaint to the PMO in September 2016 and even met the Prime Minister.
"The promoters had met the chief minister (Hooda) and submitted the proposal for making Appu Ghar on June 22, 2010 which became the letter of intent (LoI) on June 26. The whole machinery of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) was pressed into service and in the first week of July tender was also floated. The specifications of the tender were tailor-made for initiators of the project and as such no other bidder qualified," he said.
He also alleged Master Plan 2021 for Gurugram was tweaked at the behest of the then CM.
"Land earlier locked for bus stand and under 'open spaces' was acquired and then 42 acres of land was allotted to the company for just Rs 94.5 crore against the official circle rate of Rs 826 crore and commercial rates of Rs 3,000 crore," Dhingra said.
A group of Gurugram residents last year took to the streets and also participated in a candlelight march to press for a CBI inquiry into the issue.
"The water park does not make money. It is not commercial, which is why the government thought that it will develop this by giving some land for commercial use also. This is an open area. Therefore, it was given on concessional rates, because we are not doing any commercial activity and thus cannot be charged commercial rates," said Babbar, who is the brother of BJP Delhi unit vice-president Rajiv Babbar.
"They say there was a bus stand here, but according to government there was nothing like that. Only my reputation and my brand Appu Ghar is being maligned. Just as in Disneyland, such big amusement and tourist spots can't be made possible without hand-holding of the government."