After Hooda raids, ED registers case in Haryana 'land grab'

Bhupinder Singh HoodaThe Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case after it found irregularities in the purchase of 400 acres of land in Gurgaon near Delhi by private builders, allegedly in connivance with government officials.

A case was registered on the basis of a Central Bureau of Investigation probe, as part of which the Enforcement Directorate had recently conducted raids on premises owned by former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, senior bureaucrats and others.

The ED has filed the case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the agency has started identifying the alleged ''proceeds of crime''.

"Summons would be issued to the accused soon. The agency is also looking for assets created out of tainted funds to attach them under PMLA as part of the investigations," said a senior ED officer.

The CBI registered a case in this regard in September last year on allegations that private builders in collusion with public servants of the Haryana government had purchased around 400 acres of land from farmers and land owners of village Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula in Gurgaon district at throwaway prices, using the threat of acquisition by the government, between 27 August 2004 and 24 August 2007.

It was alleged that a loss of Rs1,500 crore was caused to the landowners of village Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula of Gurgaon.

During last week's searches at Hooda's residence, the CBI had claimed to have found "fund transaction details worth crores of rupees" which are now being scrutinised by the agency.

The ED is expected to seek a copy of these documents from the CBI soon, in order to take its probe forward.

The CBI alleged that initially the Haryana government had issued a notification under the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring land measuring about 912 acres for setting up an Industrial Model Township at villages Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula in Gurgaon.

After that, all the land had allegedly been grabbed from the land owners by private builders at meager rates using the threat of government acquisition, CBI had said after registering the case.

It is also alleged that an order was then passed by the competent authority i.e. the Director of Industries, on 24 August 2007 releasing this land from the acquisition process in violation of the government policy, in favour of the builders, their companies and agents, instead of the original land owners.

The CBI in its first information report stated in the said manner, land measuring about 400 acres whose market value at that time was above Rs4 crore per acre approximately totalling about Rs1,600 crore approximately was allegedly purchased by the private builders and others from the innocent land owners for just Rs100 crore.