Panchkula Museum Project: Bitter Truths unfold

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Panchkula Museum Project: Bitter Truths unfold

Smell of a scam is in the air!

Thursday, 30th July 2020

Recently a probe into the selling of a plot of land by the Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran to the State’s archaeology department involving transactions of crores of rupees to construct a state-of-the-art museum has unearthed many astonishing facts. As per the reports from official sources, the file that bore the proofs of Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran’s claims of having received the then CM’s consent regarding the land transfer “is untraceable” now


Mr. S.K Saxena who was the director of the archaeology and museums department at that time and who had taken possession of that plot in the Sector 5 region of Panchkula is now no more. Reports from sources further informed that “no measurement of the site was done at the time of allotment (August 1996) or possession (May 1998) or raising of additional demand of Rs 22.88 crore (September 2016), which was eventually paid to HSVP”.


The HSVP which was known by the name of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) during that time allotted a plot of land to the State’s Archaeology Department on the 23rd of August, 1996. The land, as said, was purchased for constructing a state-of-the-art museum on it. The land was sold to the department at Rs 185/per sq yard rate. The State Archaeology department made the payment to HUDA. The PWD (Buildings & Roads) Officials discovered that HUDA that was supposed to allot possession of 9, 6980 sq. yards of land to the Archaeology department had allotted possession of only 8, 860 sq. yards of land. This fact was made known to the department on the 23rd of May, 2019. In response to the facts informed to them, the State Archaeology Department made a request to HUDA about increasing the FAR or Floor Area Ratio from about 100%-150%. In reply, HUDA asked for Rs 22.88 crore as additional charges.


Ashok Khemka, the Principal Secretary of Archaeology and Museums Department has demanded strict action against HUDA’s erring officials. He has also demanded adjustment with regard to the already paid excess funds. Once the matter was discovered HSVP decided to dissect the road running between the Indradhanush Stadium and the plot into halves and offer it to the State’s archaeology department. But Khemka refused the offer.


“The road width is proposed to be reduced from the present 12 mts to 6.7 mts by adding a 5.3 mts wide strip to the plot. Narrowing the road would render access to the museum site difficult. The archaeology department therefore agrees to take possession of the plot as at site, that is, 1.83 acres with excess amount adjusted,” Khemka wrote to the government of the state.


He further added, “Possession of the plot was handed over on May 22, 1998, by a junior engineer (HUDA) to S K Saxena. The then director was negligent in taking possession of the site without actual dimensions and site plan sketch. But HSVP is not a real estate dealer, it is a planned urban agency of the state. Each and every site in a planned sector is mapped and measured before allotment. The dimensions and actual area of the site would exist in some pre-allotment HSVP record, but the record was not produced despite request and reminder to the principal secretary (town and country planning) and HSVP officers.”


He also said: “The act of HSVP to allot and hand over possession of an undersized plot to a government department is most brazen and strains bona fide by suggesting fraud, breach of trust, and falsification of official records,” 


Snubbing the previous land possession certificate (22nd May, 1998) as a “defective certificate and no-possession”, Khemka wrote, “HSVP must be directed to hand over proper possession of the plot with correct dimensions, area and site plan sketch and compensate the government exchequer as CM and finance department may determine for the 23-year delay in handover of proper possession of the plot for which full price was paid in 1997.” He also raised objections over the archaeology department being charged Rs 22.88 crore for additional FAR, saying, “it was an unjust enrichment of HSVP at the cost to the government exchequer”.



Source: Indian Express

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