GANDHINAGAR: A day after The Economic Times reported that 250 acres of land near the Gir lion sanctuary was allotted to a firm run by business associates of Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel’s daughter, Anar Jayesh Patel, at Rs 15 per sq metre, the Congress demanded an independent probe by a Special Investigation Team.
Accusing the CM of selling 245 acres of government land worth nearly Rs 145 crore to Anar’s business associates for a mere Rs 1.5 crore in 2011, Congress functionary Anand Sharma also demanded the resignation of Anandiben and cancellation of the deal.
Anandiben was revenue minister in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat cabinet in 2011. The land adjoins Gir and is located within the eco-sensitive zone in Amreli district.
While Anandiben and her government did not comment on the allegations, Gujarat BJP said the charges were baseless. State BJP vice-president I K Jadeja said by linking Anar’s name to the alleged land scam, the Congress had made one more attempt to malign the state government.
Contesting the evidence produced by the Congress, Jadeja said, “The permission for construction within the eco-sensitive zone is given by the Wildlife Board of India. The state government has no role in it.”
Congress alleged that as revenue minister, Anandiben had got cabinet approval for allotment of 245 acres of government land to a newly formed company, Wildwoods Resort & Realties Pvt Ltd (WWR).
It said the state government gave the land to WWR at Rs 15 per sq m, a fraction of the market price, and also gave permission for non-agriculture (NA) use of 176 acres of private agriculture land purchased by the company for a resort. In all, the company acquired about 422 acres.
The Congress alleged the state government gave away public land at the rate of Rs 60,000 per acre while the market price was estimated to be more than Rs 50 lakh per acre in 2011.
It said that official documents accessed under RTI revealed that Anar had invested in WWR, which was promoted by Dubai-based businessman Sanjay Vajubhai Dhanak, who is from Amreli.Soon after the land was allotted and permission granted for developing a resort in Dhari, shares of WWR were transferred to Anar’s current business partner, Daxesh Rameshchandra Shah, and two others. Two companies owned by Anar’s partner, Anil Infraplus Ltd and Parshwa Texchem (India) Pvt Ltd, acquired 49.5% shares each in WWR.
Later, Anar’s company, Anar Projects, and Relish Pharma (in which she is a business partner) joined WWR by acquiring equity through various business transactions recorded with the Registrar of Companies. The Congress said Anar had used “black money” and exploited her mother’s position as revenue minister.
It was further alleged that to benefit Anar, the Gujarat government had delayed announcement of rules for earmarking eco-sensitive zones.
The WWR-acquired land was located within 2km of the periphery of Gir, within which no commercial activity could be undertaken. Under the modified policy, the radius was reduced to 1.5 km. Since the land allotted to WWR is outside the prohibited zone, it was now eligible to apply for commercial activities.
WWR was supposed to develop the resort within five years but now Anar is using the land as an orchard farm, sources said.
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