Bamnoli land acquisition: CM Kejriwal sends inquiry report on chief secretary to LG

Bamnoli land acquisition: CM Kejriwal sends inquiry report on chief secretary to LG

New Delhi, Nov 15 (PTI) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sent to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena the vigilance minister's report alleging 'prima facie complicity' of Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar in the Bamnoli land acquisition matter, government sources said on Wednesday.

The chief secretary has denied any wrongdoing and termed the allegations against him as 'mudslinging' by people with vested interests against whom vigilance action was taken in corruption cases.

The report, which was submitted to Kejriwal by Vigilance Minister Atishi on Tuesday, has recommended Naresh Kumar's removal from the post for alleged corruption in acquisition of 19 acre of land in South West Delhi's Bamnoli village.

Kejriwal has instructed the vigilance minister to send the report to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as well, the sources said.

The compensation for land acquisition was allegedly raised from Rs 41 crore to Rs 353 crore but the report has claimed that the 'scale of undue benefits' in the deal was over Rs 897 crore.

The vigilance minister's report was an outcome of an inquiry to a complaint that alleged that the chief secretary's son was employed by a person who was relative of benefited landowners in Bamnoli.

The 670-page report by Atishi alleged that 'the scale of the undue benefits is much larger than earlier made out to be in a vigilance report.' 'The windfall gain for the Kathurias (landowners) would have been Rs 897.1 crore for the 19.081 acres of land in Bamnoli village based on the illegal and exorbitant arbitration award given by erstwhile DM Southwest, Hemant Kumar. This is much greater than the estimate of Rs 353.79 crore shown in the vigilance report,' the report stated.

The report further alleged that the 'connections and the chronology give the prima facie appearance of complicity of the chief secretary with Hemant Kumar and the landowners.' It was alleged by the complainant - a lawyer - that the Delhi chief secretary's son worked in a realty firm, a director of which was the son-in-law of Subhash Chand Kathuria, one of the owners of the land acquired in Bamnoli village in southwest Delhi and who was awarded enhanced compensation for his land.

In a statement on Tuesday, Naresh Kumar had questioned 'on what basis such allegations are made specially when the chief secretary has joined only last year that is 2022. Copy of the report is not shared. So on what basis one can respond or report.' According to the report, the minister has recommended removal of Chief Secretary Kumar and Divisional Commissioner Ashwani Kumar from their posts to pave the way for a fair probe.

The divisional commissioner in a press conference on Monday defended the chief secretary saying the complaint against him was part of 'dirty politics' as he was actively pursuing corruption cases.

On Tuesday, the chief secretary in a statement said the matter came to light in May when the compensation for 19 acres of land to be acquired by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the Dwarka Expressway was hiked from Rs 41 crore to Rs 353 crore by the then district magistrate Hemant Kumar, who was later suspended and a CBI inquiry was initiated against him.

The vigilance inquiry into the excessive compensation hike by Hemant Kumar was not initiated suo motu by the chief secretary and the divisional commissioner. 'It was done only after the matter was flagged by National Highways Authority (NHAI) that moved court in the matter on June 5 this year,' claimed the report.

The chief secretary stated that the matter was already under investigation by the CBI and the minister's report could be sent to the probe agency so that truth can come out.

The CBI may also probe if there was any 'conspiracy' to malign his image by 'vested interests including public authorities' against whom action was taken by him, the chief secretary said on Tuesday.

The vigilance minister, in her report, has also recommended that a reference be made to the ED for the likelihood of money laundering in the land purchase by its current owners in 2015 and subsequent 'illegal compensation' awarded in 2023 for its acquisition.

Incidentally, the Delhi High Court recently set aside the award of Rs 353 crore for acquisition of land in Bamnoli that was declared by the then district magistrate (southwest) in May this year. PTI VIT BUN ANB ANB

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