Congress accuses Modi of nepotism in Gir land deal

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “nepotism” in a deal of land right next to the Gir Lion Sanctuary.

“Shocking facts reveal that Modi, as the chief minister of Gujarat, had sanctioned nepotism, conflict of interest and blatant plundering of public land to promote commercial and business interests of entities closely connected to Anar Patel,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said here.

Anar Patel is daughter of the then revenue minister Anandiben Patel, who is now the chief Minister of Gujarat.

“Allotment of 250 acres of government land next to Gir Lion Sanctuary without following any procedure or valuation or price determination for a pittance was in gross violation of all norms, procedures and regulations governing allocation of public land,” he added.

Surjewala said that with the allotment, the notification of the Gujarat government to not permit resorts within two km of ‘Gir Lion Sanctuary’, considering that it is an eco-sensitive zone, “was violated with impunity”.

“In addition, revenue department, then headed by Anandiben Patel, permitted purchase of agricultural land by non-agriculturists as also ‘change of land use’ of agricultural land for profiteering and commercial exploitation.”

The Congress also posed a few questions to Modi, including: “Was the allocation of 250 acres of public land next to Gir Lion Sanctuary in public interest? Was it through a public advertisement or an invitation to tender through a transparent allocation process for setting up of a resort, or was it shrouded in secrecy?”

“Why was 250 acres of government land allotted at Rs.15 per square metre to Wildwoods Resorts & Realties Private Limited (WWR) when the collector rate itself was Rs.180 per square metre? What was the criteria for determination of price and reducing it by 92 percent of the Collector Rate? Was Modi not aware of the loss caused to the State exchequer?” the Congress asked.

Other questions include: “Was Modi aware of clear conflict of interest of the then revenue minister Anandiben Patel while allocating the land? Was this allocation based on a cabinet decision and endorsed by chief Minister, and whether conflict of interest was disclosed?”

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