Bamnoli land acquisition: Atishi submits fresh report to Delhi CM, alleges chief secretary tried to save official

Bamnoli land acquisition: Atishi submits fresh report to Delhi CM, alleges chief secretary tried to save official

New Delhi, Nov 22 (PTI) Delhi Vigilance Minister Atishi on Wednesday submitted a supplementary report to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over a land acquisition deal in the Bamnoli area, claiming that Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar tried to save an official in the matter, government sources said.

In the fresh report, Atishi reiterated her recommendation for suspension of the chief secretary who is due to retire by the end of this month. The report also urges the lieutenant governor to review his position vis-a-vis his refusal to consider an earlier (preliminary) report in the matter, they said.

There was no immediate response from the chief secretary on the supplementary report.

He had earlier denied any wrongdoing and alleged that people with 'vested interests' against whom vigilance action was taken for corruption were indulging in 'mudslinging'.

The matter pertains to alleged corruption related to a hike in compensation for the acquisition of 19 acres of land in southwest Delhi's Bamnoli village for construction of the Dwarka expressway by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

In her first (preliminary) report submitted to Kejriwal last week, Atishi had alleged 'prima facie complicity' of the chief secretary in the land acquisition matter.

The compensation for the 19-acre land was hiked from Rs 41 crore to Rs 353 crore by former southwest Delhi district magistrate Hemant Kumar, according to the report.

The preliminary report was sent to Lieutenant General V K Saxena by Kejriwal.

The LG, however, did not consider it, saying it was based on 'preconceived assumptions' while pointing out that a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was already underway in the matter.

Last week, sources in the chief secretary's office had also rejected the allegations made in the minister's report and said, 'Let the CBI and the ED also investigate such a conspiracy being done by vested interests, including public authorities, to malign him (chief secretary), against whom action has been taken by him, including removal from services/posts, suspension, referring cases to ED, CBI and Delhi Police with approval of the Competent Authorities for investigation.' In the supplementary report submitted on Wednesday, Atishi alleged that 'the chief secretary made all the efforts to save the (former) DM. A paper chase was going on and despite the facts, the district magistrate was not suspended,' sources said.

In the preliminary report, Atishi had alleged that the chief secretary's son was an employee of a company run by a relative of the landowners benefitted in the Bamnoli land acquisition matter.

The land was acquired for the Dwarka expressway by the NHAI in 2018 and the compensation was increased on May 15 this year. The revised compensation of Rs 353 crore was recently set aside by the Delhi High Court.

In her fresh report, Atishi reiterated that the matter be referred to the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for a probe and the chief secretary be suspended till the completion of the probe.

According to sources in the bureaucracy who have dealt with files related to the matter, the divisional commissioner recommended a vigilance inquiry in the land acquisition matter on June 28 and it was approved by the chief secretary on June 30.

While approving the file, the chief secretary noted on it, 'The Revenue Department shall ensure action as recommended in a time-bound manner. Matter shall be reviewed at the level of the Divisional Commissioner on a fortnightly basis till the matter is decided/disposed of.' The supplementary report by Atishi alleged 'shadow boxing' between senior officers, including the chief secretary and the divisional commissioner, and delays in taking action against Hemant Kumar.

Days after the compensation award was passed, the matter was flagged by the Union transport minister on May 18. However, for two-and-a-half months, the two senior IAS officers were merely advising a junior IAS officer (Hemant Kumar) to undo the wrong, the supplementary report stated.

'If the divisional commissioner and the Chief Secretary were serious about taking action against the DM, they would have recommended his suspension in May itself, as soon as they came to know about the inflated compensation,' Atishi said in her report.

She had also recommended suspension of the divisional commissioner in her preliminary report.

There was no immediate response from the divisional commissioner to the charge.

The report further stated that action was taken against Hemant Kumar on September 21 and he was transferred to the Delhi government's Administrative Reforms Department and later to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on October 19.

Finally, he was suspended on October 20 by the Union government and the matter was referred to the CBI, it said.

In the fresh report, Atishi urged the LG to review his position on the preliminary report submitted to him by Kejriwal while stating that 'it was perplexing that the LG has completely ignored the factual findings of her enquiry'.

'It is up to the LG to send out a message to the administrative machinery that corruption in no form and by no hands is acceptable,' she said in the report. PTI VIT SLB BUN DIV DIV

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