Hyderabad: Hundreds of acres of government lands allotted to various private companies to establish industries, infrastructure projects and for taking up mining activities are lying unused in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as they are tied up in litigation.
Land allotments were made by Telugu Desam and Congress governments in undivided AP, and the cancellation of many of these allotments by successive governments – in undivided AP and after division, by the two state government – has led to a host of litigation.
The controversy originated in the erstwhile AP with the N. Chandrababu Naidu government allotting 850 acre in Gachibowli to IMG Bharata Academies.
The Congress government cancelled the allotment in 2006 through a GO and later brought out an ordinance to nullify the land deal with IMG in 2007, on the ground of alleged irregularities.
IMG Bharata moved the High Court against the cancellation and the court granted status quo in 2006. Till then the entire extent of land remained unused.
Huge chunks of land were allotted by Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s government to various companies including the Vodarevu and Nizampatnam Port and Industrial Corridor (Vanpic) in Prakasam and Guntur districts; the Lepakshi Knowledge Hub Private Limited in Anantapur; Brahmani Industries, a subsidiary of Obulapuram Mining Company owned by former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy in Kadapa district; Saraswati Power and Industries Ltd and Penna Cements in Anantapur district.
When the the Kiran Kumar Reddy-led Congress government cancelled the allotment of mining leases to Brahmani Industries and land allotted to Lepakshi Knowledge Hub Private Limited to set up a SEZ, both companies moved the High Court, which ordered status quo in Brahmani’s case.
The current AP government has cancelled land allotments to Vanpic, Saraswati Power and Penna Cements and they too have moved the Hyderabad High Court and their pleas are pending. As most of the cases of allotments in AP are sub-judice, neither the government nor the allottees can utilise the lands till the final adjudication of the cases.
Interestingly, the situation in Telangana is a bit different. Though an MoU between Rakshana Steels Ltd and the erstwhile AP government to establish a steel project and for iron ore mining at Bayyaram in Khammam district was cancelled by the AP government, the newly formed Telangana government has managed to free the land from litigation and has given the mining lease to Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd.
The TS government has also cancelled over 5,000 acre alienated in favour of Deccan Infrastructure and Land Holdings Limited, established as a subsidiary of AP Housing Board, in Medak, Nalgonda, Ranga Reddy and Mahbubnagar districts.
Not easy to call back land units
Lawyers at the Hyderabad High Court have different opinions on the possibility of taking back land allotted earlier by the government which are currently under litigation. Nearly 50,000 acre of land in AP with a lot of mining potential is struck in litigation.
Mr. P Subhash, counsel for Penna Cements said that the government had no power to cancel the land allotments till the trial court found that the allotments were made in violation of law and for extraneous reasons. Similarly, the CBI is not empowered to attach land; in the case of Mr Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, it had to probe the criminalities and place the same before the trial court.
He said that the government had allotted land to Penna Cements at Anantapur for making a road to their cement unit. The road is already laid and it is being used not only by Penna Cements but also by people of eight to nine villages in the vicinity. He opined that if successive governments vigorously perused the legal cases, there was the possibility for using these lands for setting up industries, infrastructure projects and mining activities.
Mr Suresh Kumar, counsel for ED said that huge chunk of lands inv-olved in Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy’s case, particularly those allots to Brahmani, VANPIC, Penna Cements and other companies, were under provisional attachment with the ED.
The ED has already found that the allotments made to Brahmani, VANPIC, Penna Cements and other companies were crime proceeds and has passed provisional attachments under Section 5 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Complaints have also been filed before the adjudicating authority for confirming the attachments under Section 8 of the Act.
He said after confirming the attachments by the ED, neither the government nor the ED had the right to create third party interests on the lands as well as on the properties till final disposal of the cases pending before court under the PMLA Act.
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