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Row heightens as Swamy seeks probe into high-rise plan near Rashtrapati Bhavan

A fresh controversy has also broken out over the allegation that that the promoters DLF are keen on increasing the current height of the construction from the permitted four storeys (30 metres) to eight, despite the concerns of a possible security breach of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has said there is no evidence of irregularity in the conversion of dairy land for the purpose of construction of hi-end apartments in close proximity to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy has written to President Pranab Mukherjee, seeking an SIT probe into the conversion, alleging compromise to the security of the President.



A fresh controversy has also broken out over the allegation that that the promoters DLF are keen on increasing the current height of the construction from the permitted four storeys (30 metres) to eight, despite the concerns of a possible security breach of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.



The Union Urban Development Ministry has however refuted the allegation and said: “The approval for construction has been accorded only up to four storeys in line with other existing buildings of the same height in the vicinity, strictly as per the written advice of the Delhi Police and the Ministry of Home Affairs.”



The CBI probe was ordered on a reference from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) over a complaint against unknown officials of the UD Ministry in July last year. CBI sources on Tuesday said the preliminary enquiry was closed last month as no criminality was found.



However, according to Dr. Swamy the 23-acre plot for building luxury apartments was sold off to DLF, a private construction company by Keventers Company, who were leased the land since 1920s for an amount much less than the market price.



“The land was made available by the holders Keventers Co., to a private company owned by DLF at a price of Rs. 65 crore after prolonged litigation. However, the value of land in 2012 when the permission was granted for the conversion should be worth more than Rs. 10,000 crore. This attracts Section 13 (1)(d)(iii) of Prevention of Corruption Act (1988),” Dr.Swamy said in his letter.



The project has been mired in controversy. The Centre initially disagreed to allow the construction of apartments, citing a threat to the Rashtrapati Bhavan; but the matter was referred to a Division Bench in 2011 which said the master plan permits the use for residential areas and there are many other residential premises in the vicinity.



The President's security and the Intelligence Bureau had in clear terms said that the building cannot be allowed to go up to eight floors as that would mean a ‘visual intrusion’ into Rashtrapati Bhavan complex. .



The Delhi police in its report in 2012 said the new construction of eight floors would pose a security threat from various angles.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 3:32:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/row-heightens-as-swamy-seeks-probe-into-highrise-plan-near-rashtrapati-bhavan/article5750177.ece

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