Hyderabad: In what could turn out to be the next big land scam, huge tracts of excess land was acquired by the government for the Hyderabad Metro Rail project, even as Larsen & Toubro (L&T), the executing agency, maintains that it has got only the agreed 269 acres.
Documents in possession with TOI show that the government acquired 879 acres near Nagole and 410 acres in Miyapur, where L&T is building two metro depots. But the construction major says it has been given only 104 acres in Nagole and 96 acres in Miyapur. Where has the excess land gone is what civil society members are now asking. "When the total requirement for the project is only 269 acres, how can the government explain the huge acquisitions in these two places and elsewhere," asked C Ramachandraiah, director of Centre for Economics and Social Sciences.
The documents show that at least 70 acres of prime land in the city, which was not mentioned in the concession agreement, was handed over to Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd (HMRL) on March 22, 2013. "The government must also explain why 70 acres extra land was given in the city," Ramachandraiah added. As per the concession agreement, L&T is entitled to get 269 acres across the city, out of which the company is allowed to use 18.5 million sq feet for commercial development near stations and parking lots.
The disclosures, while likely to further stoke the raging controversy over the rapid transit project, is also likely to bring the previous Kiran Kumar Reddy government under the scanner. "It looks like a huge land scam on the lines of recent scandals which sent politicians and bureaucrats to jail. Only a thorough investigation can bring the facts to the fore," said EAS Sarma, retired bureaucrat and former secretary to the government of India, who had surmised the scam a year ago and had written to the Centre seeking investigation.
However, when asked, L&T said that as far as land disbursal was concerned, there was no dispute with the government. "There are no controversies as only the agreed 269 acres of land has been given to us for the execution of the project, nothing more," said an L&T spokesperson, adding: "We don't know about any excess land acquired by the government in Uppal and Miyapur. All land given to us is legal and is intact with us."
But documents show that a government order (GO Ms 152), issued on March 22, 2013, had assigned lands of various departments to the municipal administration & urban development (MA&UD) department for handing it over to the metro rail project. Documents also show that the land earmarked for the metro project is far more than what is prescribed in the concession agreement.