LG rejects Delhi govt report on suspicious Bamnoli land deal for Dwarka Expressway
The LG has refused to consider a report by vigilance minister Atishi alleging "prima facie complicity" of chief secretary Naresh Kumar in the land acquisition matter
Delhi lieutenant-governor VK Saxena has refused to consider a report by vigilance minister Atishi alleging "prima facie complicity" of chief secretary Naresh Kumar in the Bamnoli land acquisition matter, saying it seemed to be "completely based" on the minister's preconceived assumptions and presumptions, said Raj Bhavan officials.
According to the officials, the LG refused to consider the report, stating that it could hinder the ongoing investigation rather than facilitate it.
The 670-page report from the vigilance minister, submitted to the LG by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's office, called for Kumar's suspension and claimed that the scale of "undue benefits" in the matter exceeded Rs 897 crore. The compensation for land acquisition was raised from Rs 41 crore to Rs 353 crore, but the report has suggested that the "scale of undue benefits" in the deal was worth over Rs 897 crore.
The 19-acre land in question was acquired by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in 2018 for the construction of the Dwarka Expressway.
Earlier this week, Atishi had initiated an inquiry into a complaint against chief secretary Naresh Kumar and summoned all the Bamnoli land acquisition files for further action. The complaint alleged that the chief secretary's son was employed by the relative of a landowner in Bamnoli, who allegedly received enhanced compensation for land acquired for the road project.
Atishi had directed the divisional commissioner and vigilance director to provide all the files related to the Bamnoli land acquisition to her by 7.00 pm on Saturday 18 November.
The vigilance directorate, in reply to a note from the minister, cited various guidelines, including those from the Vigilance Manual 2021, to point out that she had no authority to inquire into the matter, which was already being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). However, a certified copy of all the files of the Directorate of Vigilance related to the matter was provided to the minister.
The directorate had also sought a copy of the complaint from the minister so that it could be examined in accordance with the chief vigilance commission's instructions.
Reacting to the complaint against him, the chief secretary has maintained that it is an act of "mudslinging" by "disgruntled" people facing vigilance investigation.
In a file noting on the government's report, the LG expressed surprise and disappointment that the confidential report had already become public, with its details widely reported in the media. He noted that the leaked information seemed to suggest that the inquiry's motive was not to uncover the truth but to initiate a media trial and politicise the issue, especially since it was currently before the Supreme Court.
Saxena pointed out that the matter is already being investigated by the CBI, after his approval based on recommendations from the chief secretary and the divisional commissioner.