Blatant plundering of public land in Gujarat by Anandiben Patel and then Chief Minister Narendra Modi
“Nepotism, conflict of interest and blatant plundering of public land by Government of Gujarat led by the then Chief Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and Revenue Minister, Smt. Anandiben Patel to perpetuate profiteering and commercial interests have been adequately placed in public domain. Shockingly, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Gujarat, Smt. Anandiben Patel have maintained a conspiratorial silence. Instead of replying to the pointed questions asked by Congress Party and others in public domain, Prime Minister, Shri Modi and Gujarat CM, Smt. Anandiben Patel have chosen to hide behind a factually incorrect and misleading statement issued by none less than Shri Dakshesh Shah (partner of Smt. Anar Patel), owner of the beneficiary company i.e. Wildwoods Resorts and Realties Private Limited (WWR). Is this the ‘zero tolerance for corruption and commitment to transparency and accountability’ promised by Shri Narendra Modi as his principal electoral rhetoric? Contrary to the misleading statement of Shri Dakshesh Shah, Shri Vajubhai Dhanak (father of Shri Sanjay Vajubhai Dhanak) was MLA from Janata Dal and not from Congress Party.
It may further be noted that the then Government of Gujarat was a coalition government between BJP and Janata Dal. Further, Shri Vajubhai Dhanak and his son Sanjay Vajubhai Dhanak have joined BJP. What is most intriguing is the double jeopardy caused to farmers of Village Patla, District Amreli by so-called purchase of land at Rs.5/- per square metre i.e. a price cheaper than even a chocolate or a handkerchief or a bottle of mineral water. This truly depicts the rank exploitation of small gullible farmers in ‘Modi Model of Governance’ under the then Chief Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. It is also wholly incorrect that the land allotted by Government of Gujarat, measuring 245 acres at a pittance of Rs.15/- per square metre i.e. Rs.60,000/- per acre was waste land. What must be noted that Gir Lion Sanctuary is itself a forest and land around it is fertile land. Instead, why are the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi or Gujarat CM, Smt. Anandiben Patel not coming forward to answer the following:- What was the criteria adopted for allotting the land to Wildwoods i.e. WWR?
Was it through a public advertisement or an invitation to tender through a transparent allocation process for setting up of a resort or was it based on the oft repeated principle under Modi regime i.e. “You show me the face, I will show the rule”? What was the criteria for determination of price of 245 acres of government land? Was it through public auction (as is the defined mode by Supreme Court) or through invitation of bids? Whether the price was determined based on a whimsical decision taken by the then Revenue Minister, Smt. Anandiben Patel and the then Chief Minister, Shri Narendra Modi? What was the justification for allotting the land to Wildwoods i.e. WWR for a resort when there was no experience with either the company or its promoters of ever running a resort or a hotel or a restaurant or any other connected activity?
Why was permission granted to WWR by Government of Gujarat to purchase agricultural land measuring 177 acres by relaxation of prohibition on purchase of agricultural land and why was change of land use granted for converting it from agricultural to commercial? Was it not in patent violation of the eco-sensitive zone and other forest laws? Has Wildwoods i.e. WWR not violated even the terms of allotment as no resort has been constructed on the spot? Why has no action been taken on the same by Government of Gujarat?
Is it not a fact that Shri Dakshesh Shah and Parshwa Texchem are co-owners of various entities along with Smt. Anar Patel, daughter of Smt. Anandiben Patel? Are inter-corporate linkages not conclusively established? Truth is, that Prime Minister and Gujarat CM are hiding behind innocuous and misleading statements being issued by Shri Dakshesh Shah, business associate of Smt. Anar Patel. To ensure the credibility of high office of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi must come forward and submit himself to a thorough probe through SIT monitored by Supreme Court.
To ensure a fair probe, Gujarat CM, Smt. Anandiben Patel must resign forthwith.” Rs. 125 crore land sold for Rs. 1.5 crore: Anand Sharma On the reaction of the Congress party on the issue concerning Smt. Anandiben’s daughter, Shri Anand Sharma said it is a serious matter which has come in public domain that under the watch of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, there was plunder of public lands which was given at throwaway prices to vested interests, to Corporates in violation of the Laws, the Regulations, No due processes were followed, Price determination was not done and what has come to light is that in one case where 250 Acres of forest land in an eco-sensitive zone was given by the Gujarat Government at throwaway prices.
It was a public land and even at that time the valuation was Rs. 50 lacs per Acre and it was given at Rs. 15/- per Sq. Mt. So, land for Rs. 125 Crores was given for Rs. 1.5 Crore and later it has been found that the Wildwood Resorts to which it was given (a) Has not followed the conditions (b) The regulations were changed twice two notifications of the Gujarat Government - when he was the Chief Minister reducing the radius around the Gir Sanctuary from 2 Kms. to 1 Km. to facilitate the construction of a Resort which their own notification and regulations of Gujarat Government did not permit till then. So, it is very clear that there was a deliberate, conscious promotion of vested interests at the cost of the State exchequer. Also the Government then facilitated to the same Company purchase of agricultural land which is not allowed. Permission was given and subsequently, the land-use change was also notified.
It is not a question of doing business. You have to be correct and ethical in conducting business. Here is the case of conflict of interest. The Revenue Minister, who gave away the land, is the present Chief Minister Smt. Anandiben Patel and her daughter, it is established and prove that she has partnership interest, equity holdings in the Company of the Promoters. So, she happens to be 50% c0-owners and she is also a partner with Mr. Dakshesh and he is also a partner when it comes to her Companies and the other 50% owner equally is involved in multiple transactions and businesses with them. Therefore, the questions which we have asked from the Prime Minister are as follows
1. Was this land given in public interest? If so, please explain.
2. Was there violation of the regulations, laws and procedures as established for such allotments?
3. Was the Prime Minister aware of the clear conflict of interest about his Revenue Minister and the close business relationship of her own daughter with the promoters of the Company Wildwood Resorts?
4. Also, Prime Minister must answer, as Chief Minister, when he chaired the Cabinet meetings, were Cabinet approvals given? If so, he is answerable, and
5. Was this conflict of interest disclosed to him?
6. He must also answer why as Chief Minister; he did not question non-disclosures and also non-determination of prices.
7. So, since he is the Prime Minister, it is imperative that he comes clean. There cannot be a different set of rules for the PM of India or for the CM of Gujarat. Prime Minister has spoken about his commitment to ‘Zero Tolerance’ when it comes to acts of omission, commission, corruption, nepotism and also firmly on fixing accountability. Mr. Prime Minister, we ask you offer yourself for a fair probe so that accountability can be fixed. No Government agency of the Central Government or State Government can be trusted to conduct a probe about this matter when the principal player happens to be a Chief Minister and the former Chief Minister who is now the Prime Minister. It would be in the interest of the Institution of the Prime Minister that there is an independent probe by SIT monitored by the Hon’ble Supreme Court so that the truth can come out, the violations established and accountability fixed. We are very fair and correct in demanding this and we want to make it clear that we will persist because Prime Minister and the BJP, in opposition, have been consistently of this view and had taken strong positions.
Now they are not above the Laws. The same rules apply to him and his colleagues. We also demand not only a probe into this matter, it has come to our notice that during his tenure as Chief Minister, there was actually a plunder of public lands and forest lands which were given for a pittance to Corporate cronies, individuals for commercial exploitations without following due procedures or the rules and all the details. When we are talking of a SIT probe, it is not limited only to this case of the Company Wildwood Resorts or the Business Associates of Anar Patel, we want the probe to cover all the allotments, allocations and grant of public lands, forest lands and the change of land-use during the time when Smt. Anandiben Patel was the Revenue Minister and Shri Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
The author is a former President, Gujarat PCC