1 June, 2011
Dr Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister of India,
South Block, New Delhi – 110 001.
Thank you for your proactive stance to curb land scams all over India. We are referring to measures outlined in this report: http://tinyurl.com/Land-Scam-Prevention-Measure
We welcome your orders that henceforth, sale or lease of government land and premises would only happen after approval of the Union Cabinet, or a Cabinet Committee. However, we are alarmed that on your Cabinet are Sharad Pawar and Vilasrao Deshmukh, who rampantly handed over large plots of prime land to private parties at throwaway prices, or even free. How can a Cabinet that includes these two corrupt heavyweights curb abuse of discretionary powers?
Sir, please remove all tainted persons from the cabinet committee for approving the transfer of government lands. In fact, we would urge you to drop all tainted persons from the Cabinet itself.
The continuance of Mr Pawar and Mr Deshmukh on the cabinet is a slap on the face of the common man. Over the last 15 years, they have used their public office and plundered the common man’s wealth to build up their own private empires. Some examples:
SHARAD PAWAR, UNION AGRICULTURE MINISTER:
• Tech Park One, a company owned by Mr Pawar’s family and close friends acquired defense land for 7 crore. Its market value was Rs 70 crore. His daughter, Supriya Sule, a Lok Sabha MP, holds a stake in Tech Park One, which constructed Panchsheel Tech Park on the defense plot, earning annual rent of Rs 27 crore. She owns substantial stakes in multi-billion-dollar real estate projects along with her husband.
• In 1989, when Sharad Pawar was CM, the Pune collector passed an order gifting 322.7 acres to a family trust of Vinod Goenka, a partner of DB Realty’s Shahid Balwa. The trust got the land for free. Later, the Pune Collector took voluntary retirement and joined Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party. He won the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 and 2004. In 1992, when Mr Pawar was called to the Centre to head the Defence Ministry, the State Revenue Department challenged the Pune Collector’s order in a court of law. It said that the order passed by the previous collector was a colossal mistake, illegal and against public interest and pleaded with the court to revoke the land transfer. In 2003, Sushilkumar Shinde’s government settled this matter out-of-court with Mr Goenka’s trust, and gave away 80 acres in the heart of Pune for free as part of the settlement.
VILASRAO DESHMUKH, UNION MINISTER FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT & PANCHAYATI RAJ:
• A CAG report indicted Mr Deshmukh for illegally allotting a 2 lakh sq metre plot at throwaway prices to the Vilasrao Deshmukh Foundation, a family trust.
• In 2002, when Mr Deshmukh was CM, and Ashok Chavan was his revenue minister, a private builder paid the government Rs 4,058 only for 102 acres in Senapati Bapat Road in Pune. The approximate value of the land was Rs 2,500 cr.
• Mr Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan together sanctioned six township projects by invoking state slum rehabilitation laws which no CM had ever used. These projects worth a total of Rs 55,000 crore were awarded on first-come first- served basis without inviting a competitive bid. In sizes of 40-125 acres in prime locations of Mumbai, each project involved gross revenues in the range of 1,000- 14,000 crore for private developers. In one of these projects, a part of the land was owned by the Air Force, while another part belonged to the customs department. In some projects, portions came under Coastal Regulation Zone or salt pan lands or mangroves. These were given without clearances from the Environment ministry, or any other relevant department.
Sir, please remove Mr Pawar and Mr Deshmukh immediately, and initiate CBI investigations against them. Also, freeze their assets pending such investigations.
In Maharashtra, NCP’s Ajit Pawar is the Deputy Chief Minister in the Congress-led government. He is party to the land scams carried out by Sharad Pawar and Supriya Sule, and many more too. Setting aside considerations of coalition politics, please remove him and investigate the sources of his ill-gotten wealth.
Please do this quickly, lest the common man should lose confidence in your government.
(Your signature, name, address, phone number)
• Sonia Gandhi, NAC Chairperson, 10 Janpath, New Delhi - 110001
• Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mantralaya, 6th Floor, Madame Cama Road, Mumbai 400032