CHANDIGARH: With assembly elections round the corner, the Punjab and Haryana high court's order on Wednesday cancelling the auction that saw 350.7 acres of land being allotted to real estate giant DLF came as a big jolt to the Haryana government. On Thursday, the government rushed to defend its decision, saying the land transfer was a transparent affair.
The high court had on Wednesday cancelled the Haryana government's auction of land at Wazirabad in Gurgaon, which DLF had bagged for Rs 1,703 crore in 2010. In a hurriedly called press conference, additional chief secretary (industries) Yudhvir Singh Malik on Thursday tried to clear "facts".
Wednesday's high court order had, however, upheld the government's land acquisition process and had only passed an order cancelling the land allotment. The high court had also permitted the state to allot the land through global bidding.
Asked about the government's compulsion to defend the DLF despite no adverse order against the state, Malik said, "It is not an issue of defending anyone. Lots of efforts were involved in the past 12 years to prepare and implement the project. We called the press conference to convey about the transparency factor of our deal."
On the available legal remedy of approaching the Supreme Court against the orders, Malik said, "First, we will understand the fault pointed out by the HC in our decision and will then decide on approaching the apex court." All allotments made by the state, he added, were in a transparent manner.
About cancellation of bids of two other players ? Unitech and Rajarhat IT Park Ltd ? for the project, Malik said the state cannot rely on companies that did not fulfil the government's conditions.
The principal secretary to the CM, S S Dhillon, and the principal secretary of the department of town and country planning, T C Gupta, were present at the press meet at which Malik spoke.
It is the second time that the Haryana government has had to rush into a damage-control exercise in land deals with DLF.
In October 2012, Gupta had called a press conference after senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka cancelled the sale deed of 3.5 acre land to DLF in which Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra was also involved. Presenting a "fact finding report" at that time, Gupta had claimed "factual inaccuracies" in the orders by Ashok Khemka on DLF-Vadra deal.
So far, the DLF has paid only Rs 679.79 crore for the Wazirabad land transfer deal against the settled amount of around Rs 1,703 crore. DLF was to pay the entire amount within seven years from the date of getting environmental clearance, officials said.