Andhra not to probe land sale to IT firms

Friday, 29 August 2008, 04:39 Hrs
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Hyderabad:The Andhra Pradesh government Thursday rejected the opposition's demand for a assembly committee to probe alleged irregularities in allotment of land to information technology (IT) companies and special economic zones (SEZs).

Justifying the sale of government land to these sectors, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy told the assembly it was necessary to mobilise resources for various welfare schemes like payment of pensions and scholarships.

Rejecting the demand for a probe, Reddy said no cultivable land was allotted, and that only idle plots were auctioned in a transparent manner.

"If acquiring cultivable land becomes inevitable, we are paying adequate compensation. That is the reason we have no Singur or Nandigram in our state," he said in a reference to the land rows in West Bengal.

Listing out the progress in the IT sector during the past four-and-half years, the chief minister said his government continued what Chandrababu Naidu did during his tenure.

He also justified land acquisition for large-scale industrialisation, especially development of coastal corridor and massive irrigation programmes.

"The entire land in the state may be eight to nine crore acres, and less than one percent of this is needed for projects," he said.

Rejecting the demand for house committee, the chief minister said these did not serve any purpose.

"Such committees should work in a proper manner and maintain secrecy but their members make comments before the media for political gains and publicity," he said evoking strong protests from the opposition, which later staged a walk-out.

The issue came up during question hour. The main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and other parties came down heavily on the Congress government, alleging there was irregularities in land allotment to various companies in and around Hyderabad.

Interestingly, the controversy cropped up two days after Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi launched an attack on the government on sale of government land and acquisition of farmland for SEZs.

While launching his party 'Praja Rajyam' at the temple town of Tirupati, the actor accused government of acting as a 'broker' and selling the 'future of our children'.

Leading the attack in the assembly, TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu alleged that in the name of allotting land to IT companies, the ruling party was selling it to brokers and realtors.

"It is through this black money that it has launched a newspaper and television channel," Naidu said referring to Telugu daily launched by chief minister's son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.

Hitting back at Naidu, the chief minister said as caretaker chief minister he had allotted 900 acres of prime land in Hyderabad to IMG Bharata at a throw-away price.

TDP legislator Harishwar Reddy said the government allotted land to state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) for 3 crore (30 million) per acre but sold the land in the same area to a private company for 85 lakh (8.5 million).

Opposition legislators across parties said prime land was sold to real estate firms in the name of IT companies. "Even in so-called IT parks, more than 50 percent of lands were sold to non-IT companies," said Telengana Rashtra Samiti legislator Harish Rao.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen questioned the allotment of 40 acres of Wakf land to Lanco Group of companies, owned by Congress parliamentarian L. Rajagopal.

It alleged that Wakf lands were also sold to several other companies in and around Hyderabad.
Source: IANS
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