Monday, July 25, 2011

Chief secretary lands a blow to BIADA brouhaha

July 25, 2011, Patna: The row over allotment of Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) land to the kin of politicians and bureaucrats took a new turn with state chief secretary Anup Mukherjee reporting to the government that rules were followed while making the allotments.

On a directive from chief minister Nitish Kumar last week, Mukherjee probed the allotments and submitted his report which was made public on Monday. The beneficiaries of the BIADA's "land largesse" include the near and dear ones of HRD minister P K Shahi, social welfare minister Parveen Amanullah and water resources department principal secretary Afzal Amanullah, JD (U) MP Jagdish Sharma, a couple of BJP legislators and a CM secretariat official.

The probe report says that Rahmat Fatima, daughter of the Amanullahs, has been allotted land for a food- processing industry. Another plot has been allotted for an educational institution to Maitreya Education Trust of which Urvashi Shahi, daughter of minister Shahi, is managing trustee. Sharma's son Rahul Kumar has been allotted land for a packaged drinking water industry. "These people were not found to have had played any role in the allotment of lands a¦ made under its (BIADA's) rules with full transparency," Mukherjee said in his report.

Relatives and friends of some other people in powerful positions are also among the BIADA beneficiaries. Chennai-based Nibhi Industries of S A Bhimaraj is allegedly linked to CM's secretary S Siddhartha and his IAS wife N Vijayalakshmi; Mother Teresa Medical Trust to IG (prisons) Anand Kishore; Auro Sundram Industries to BJP MLC Ashok Agarwal and Mothers' Society for Education & Child Development is allegedly linked to BJP MLA Awadhesh Singh.

While the probe report has been uploaded on the state government's websites, its excerpts were released to the media by principal secretary (industry) C K Mishra and BIADA managing director Anshuli Arya. Explaining the BIADA land allotment policy, Mishra said the allotment is done as per the provisions of an Act of 1974 and the rules framed in 2007. There is no provision for tender for allotment of BIADA lands. However, BIADA plots in the Patliputra Industrial Area were put out to tender once in 2007 when only 46 applications were received for 56 plots, Mishra said.

The alleged favouritism was first reported by a TV news channel. The chief secretary's probe report termed this as an attempt to adversely affect the progress of the state through "so-called exposure by negative and irresponsible reporting". The timing of its telecast also smacks of a conspiracy, the probe report says and recommends "effective legal actions to curb such practices".

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