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Ahmedabad, March 9 (IANS) The Gujarat government on Wednesday denied allegations of wrongdoing in sale of land to a private firm with links to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel's daughter Anar Patel as "figment of imagination".
It made its stand in an affidavit filed before a division bench of Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice Anant Dave in response to a public interest litigation by NGO RTI Activists Sangathan.
The state government said the decision to allot 99 hectares of land was bona fide and according to policies to promote tourism industry.
"It is a figment of imagination of the petitioner that the officers of the respondent departments have perpetrated fraud in the allotment of land," said the affidavit, providing details of the procedure followed to arrive at the pricing for the said allotment.
The government stated that the land was allotted to Wildwoods Resorts following an MoU between the state tourism department and the company on January 12, 2009, to establish a wildlife resort with a proposed investment of Rs.80 crore.
As per the details of the case, the state land at Patla village in Amreli district was allotted to Wildwoods Resort & Realities Pvt Ltd (WRRPL), at a concessional rate of Rs.15 per square metre, as against the actual valuation of Rs.180 per square metre.
The petitioner had alleged that the land was allotted to business associates of Anar Patel and had sought a probe by a judicial committee. They also sought that the order by the state government to allot land to WRRPL be set aside.
On the issue of auction for land, the state maintained that it was not a "constitutional mandate". As for the land being within the eco-sensitive area of a kilometer of Gir Lion Sanctuary, the state quoted the central government's notification of February 9, 2011, that permits setting up of hotels and resorts in the eco-sensitive zone as "regulated activities".
The state requested the high court to dismiss the petition on technical grounds of it being delayed by more than five years of allotment and clearance of land to WRRPL and that "no public interest" was involved in the case.
The high court granted the petitioner time of two weeks to file a rejoinder to the affidavit. (IANS)