East India Hotels sold 30 acres to DLF, says Haryana minister

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 09:14 hrs
Employees from the electricity board work on overhead cables installed in front of the residential apartments constructed by Indian property developer DLF at Gurgaon

Dismissing activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal's charges that the Haryana government showered undue favours on DLF, the state's parliamentary affairs minister, Randeep Singh Surjewala, said that the deal was between two private parties.

He said the Haryana government has nothing to do with the deal. According to him, the Haryana government and East India Hotels Ltd, which owns the Oberoi chain of hotels, entered into an agreement in October 1997 for release of 30 acres of land in Village Silokhera, Gurgaon.

After many legal interventions, DLF entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with East India Hotels to purchase the land. In April 2006, East India Hotels sold this land to DLF for Rs 124.37 crore, and the realtor set up a special economic zone (SEZ) there, said Surjewala.

"This 30 acres of land was not owned by either the government of Haryana or gram panchayat or any other governmental authority. This was private land and the sale-purchase was between two business houses," the Haryana minister said.

Dismissing Kejriwal's allegation that land meant for hospital was converted into an SEZ, in which Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra bought majority shares for a year, Surjewala said: "This land was never reserved for setting up a hospital by the state government nor the state government ever sought to acquire the land for setting up of a hospital." He added that the permission granted in 1984 and the subsequent release of land through a written compromise in October 1997 for setting up of a hospital was to a private party - East India Hotels. "It was not meant to be a government hospital," said Surjewala.

The minister argued that it was during the Haryana Vikas Party-BJP rule that the compromise for release of the 30-acre land was entered into.

Even at the time of agreement for sale of this land by East India Hotels to DLF in February 2005, Indian National Lok Dal-BJP government was in power in Haryana, Surjewala said. "As a consequence thereof and on an application made by DLF/East India Hotels, permission to purchase /sell was granted by the present Congress government on April 28, 2006," he added.

"Therefore there is no question of the Congress government in Haryana offering special favours to DLF," Surjewala said. "Permission to sell the land was given to East India Hotels and not to DLF. On the other hand, DLF purchased it from East India Hotels at a market price of Rs 124.37 crore," he added, asking, "how does it reflect any favour to DLF as is being alleged"?

Dismissing another allegation by Kejriwal that sale transaction between East India Hotels and DLF was quashed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Surjewala said that the order and the remarks of the high court were stayed by the Supreme Court in June 2011.

Arguing against the allegation of handing over of 350 acres of land in village Wazirabad in Gurgaon to DLF, Surjewala said the process of sale was through international competitive bidding. Although there were two other bidders (Country Heights and Unitech), they were technically disqualified, he said.

According to Surjewala, the condition of having experience of construction and maintenance of golf course existed all along, and it was not introduced at the time of evaluating the technical bids as Kejriwal alleged.

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