In 350 acres, allegations of long list of favours to DLF

Edited by Amit Chaturvedi | Updated: October 12, 2012 16:03 IST

In 350 acres, allegations of long list of favours to DLF

New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal, the founder of a new political party, has said that a mutually-beneficial relationship between businessman Robert Vadra and real estate mega-developer DLF was established with Haryana as their common ground. Because Mr Vadra is the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Mr Kejriwal has served as the mid-wife of a gargantuan scandal.

Mr Vadra, DLF and the Congress government in Haryana have said Mr Kejriwal’s allegations are incorrect, and that documents brandished by him are incomplete.

Among the examples that Mr Kejriwal cites as proof of “a malafide nexus” between the Haryana government and DLF is a 350-acre project assigned to the real estate developer for 1700 crores.

The land, acquired from farmers in the Wazirabad village barely a 20-minute drive from Delhi, was formally allotted to DLF in February 2010 for a leisure project. Wazirabad was chosen because it is adjacent to an existing DLF golf course.

Two years later, in July 2012, farmers took the government to court for misrepresenting the facts to them and for flagrant violations of state laws. In August this year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court suspended all construction at the site.

Mr Kejriwal says that in this deal, Mr Vadra’s imprint is visible in the fact that  he bought seven of the  many luxury apartments being  built here by DLF.

In court, the farmers have alleged that a part of the 350 acres given to DLF was reserved for forest land which means it’s off-limits for construction, and that the state government did not get a waiver from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. In 2010, a state minister said in the Haryana legislature that permission had been sought from the Union government. But in fact, the Haryana government had asked for clearance from a Supreme Court committee, which has yet to decide on the application.

Without the required sign-off then, the Haryana government allowed DLF to start construction.

The farmers have also alleged that the government acquired their land on false pretexts. They were told that a recreational project would be built by DLF. Also, 75 acres taken over in 1997 to develop affordable government housing and industrial zones by state agencies, were added to DLF’s kitty, which is building expensive apartments here for commercial sale.

Mr Kejriwal and the farmers further allege that though international bids were invited, the process of selection was rigged to ensure DLF won.

DLF is being represented in the court case against farmers by famous lawyer Harish Salve.    He says that “The 350 acres he (Kejriwal) is talking about was acquired through an international commercial bidding route.”

Initially, DLF was the only bidder for the project – unusual for such a big-ticket contract in Delhi and its surrounding areas. Then DLF suggested that 20% of the land ear-marked for the golf course should be used to a residential project. The government agreed. In their defence, officials say that allowing a housing project was intended to lure more bids and provide DLF with some competition. “Earlier only one bid was received… we wanted to make it more attractive so that more bidders surface,” said Rajiv Arora, who heads the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC).

But, according to Mr Kejriwal and farmers, a last-minute change in the criteria for applicants meant that only DLF qualified. Two other interested companies lost the contract because the government said that prior experience in developing a golf course was essential. In this too, Mr Kejriwal says, there was malpractice. He says that given that the two other bidders knew that they did not have the requisite technical experience, their applications were “dummy bids” designed to make it seem as if the process of awarding the contract was a legitimate one.

DLF was in for more good news. In the final letter of allotment, it was given permission to increase the built-up area of its housing complex – the floor to area ratio was enlarged – this meant it could squeeze in more flats.

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