The Chandigarh Administration has submitted its reply to the audit report of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and while defending its policies and projects, it has accused the MHA audit team of not having adequate expertise and experience.
The MHA team scrutinised issues of land acquisition and inadequate compensation to the farmers by the Administration, violations by selling land to private buyers with reference to Medi-City, Film City and Theme-cum-Amusement Park in the Union Territory. The team in its report had highlighted certain startling irregularities in the functioning of the Administration.
The Administration in its reply has said that all the projects were conceptualised and allotted according to the rules and it had never “exceeded its power” and there were no irregularities committed at any stage. It has accused the auditors of giving a one-sided, inconsistent and arbitrary report.
It maintained that the compensation to landowners in Manimajra was announced according to the rules and that the Manimajra farmers were crying foul guided by vested interests.
The Administration’s reply mentions that the report appeared to be “inspired” by a letter written in 2008 by local MP and Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal.
In October, Mr. Bansal had demanded a “detailed inquiry” into the land deals in the wake of audit objections from the MHA and the Central Vigilance Commission recommending a CBI probe into them.
Chandigarh Administrator S. F. Rodrigues had last month accused Mr. Bansal and Union Minister Ambika Soni of launching a malicious propaganda against him and his projects.
‘Bundle of lies’
The UT officials said the comprehensive reply, running into about 700 pages, consists of nearly 14 prologues, explanations and numerous annexures. Labelling every bit of the reply sent by Mr. Rodrigues as a “bundle of lies and a selective deceitful concoction of imaginary facts and fictional excuses to justify fraud, corruption, robbery and plundering”, a group of eminent citizens and affected families have decided to urgently meet the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to update them on the “facts” of the Chandigarh “land scams” and to request for immediate removal of Mr. Rodrigues along with other bureaucrats.
The group convened a meeting on Wednesday to voice their anger on the issue. “We will personally meet the Prime Minister and the Union Home Ministry to discuss the issue further. Rodrigues has openly challenged the authority of the Government of India and this proves what we have been saying all along.
“He has now accused the Home Ministry of getting the audit done wrongly and instead of accepting serious irregularities, corruption and misuse of power,” said H. S. Johl, president of Manimajra Farmers’ Welfare and Environment Protection Society.
Social activist Hemant Goswami said it was illegal and unconstitutional for Mr. Rodrigues to continue occupying the office of Administrator as, unlike in the case of the Governor, there was no provision for extension of the term of Administrator without a specific notification by the President of India.