"Land for educational purposes continued to be allotted in Mumbai at throwaway prices"

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday tabled the leaked Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on land allotment in the State Legislature. The report has pointed out to irregularities in allotment of land to public representatives for housing and educational purposes.

Though the report has directly named only one politician — Samir Bhujbal, who is the nephew of Public Works Department Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, it has clearly pointed towards prominent politicians like Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, whose trust was allegedly given land at throwaway price.

The report also named trusts run by the family members of senior politicians like Narayan Rane, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Patangrao Kadam. “Land for educational purposes is continued to be allotted in Mumbai on basis of Government Resolutions which were 18 to 35 years old, at throwaway prices thereby jeopardising the revenue interests of the government, though educational activities are no longer only philanthropic in nature,” the report observed in its chapter on land revenue in the revenue receipts section.

Inquiry

The Opposition had leaked the CAG report a few days ago in the Assembly. The State government on Tuesday announced an inquiry by the Mumbai Crime Branch to ascertain the source of the leak.

“The leakage of the report to the media even before the report was tabled before the House is a serious matter,” Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said. Home Minister R.R. Patil announced the inquiry and requested the politicians to cooperate with the probe.

Meanwhile, it has been found that the report tabled before the State Legislature does not name all the politicians directly, as was claimed in the leaked report.

The CAG report has observed, “There were blatant violations of the conditions under which land was granted and action either to resume the land or recover the unearned income was not made due to a lackadaisical approach of the department. Absence of follow-ups and action on follow-up reports resulted in huge tracts of land lying idle with private persons/government corporations for several years. Monitoring mechanism was weak and ineffective.”

It said that Vilasrao Deshmukh's Manjara Educational Trust was allotted land in Mumbai suburb for a dental college without mentioning the mandatory conditions of time frame for the commencement of education activities.

Sindhudurg Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, a trust patronised by State Cabinet Minister Narayan Rane, was allotted land at concessional lease rent in Andheri, Mumbai for 30 years, to be used for educational purposes. The land was instead used for commercial purpose, the report stated.