Shakuntala Gamlin shots off letter to Najeeb Jung; accuses AAP minister of ‘putting pressure’

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Published: June 1, 2015 9:23:14 AM

Shakuntala Gamlin accused AAP's Satyendra Jain of putting pressure on her over conversion of industrial plots from leasehold to freehold, a charge "strongly refuted" by the minister.

Senior IAS officer Shakuntala Gamlin has shot off a letter to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, accusing Delhi Industries Minister Satyendra Jain of putting pressure on her over conversion of industrial plots from leasehold to freehold, a charge “strongly refuted” by the minister.

In her letter to Jung, Gamlin, whose appointment as the acting chief secretary had triggered a turf war between the Lt Governor and AAP Government, alleged that despite the fact that land does not come under Delhi Government, the Industries Minister put pressure on her to submit a note for the Council of Ministers proposing conversion of the industrial land from leasehold to freehold.

Jain, however, argued that he had only written to the concerned department to examine the feasibility of the proposal about which several organisations had given representation to him.

“If I get representation from numbers of organisations, will I not send it to the concerned department for examination? Is it not natural that the department concerned will be asked to examine the particular proposal and look into its feasibility?” asked Jain.

The minister also questioned the way the letter got leaked to media.

“Will it not be sent to the law department for looking into its legal validity? It would have been better had the concerned officer returned back to me in place of some other authority which eventually got leaked to the media. I fail to understand which kind of pressure is being talked about,” he added.

While main opposition BJP latched on to the issue to attack the AAP Government demanding a thorough probe into the issue, Congress came in support of the Delhi Government with DPCC Chief Ajay Maken saying that “we are supportive of conversion of leasehold into freehold”.

Gamlin’s appointment as the acting chief secretary had sparked off a showdown with the AAP accusing the L-G of attempting a “coup” and bypassing an elected government to get in officers of his choice. The matter is now pending before the Supreme Court.

“The Industries Minister had been continuously pressing me to submit a note for the Council of Ministers proposing therein conversion of industrial plots in the city from leasehold to freehold even after full facts pertaining to the legal ramifications of the case that the matter was not within the competence of GNCT Delhi had been brought to his notice,” Gamlin, who is Principal Secretary (Power & Industry), said in her letter.

At a time when the controversy over Gamlin’s appointment was at its peak, the AAP government had accused Gamlin of favouring discoms through a Rs 11,000-crore loan.

“Due to oversight or otherwise, some conversion of industrial plots had been ordered in Delhi without the involvement of land owning agency Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the matter is said to be under scrutiny of the Vigilance Department of Delhi Government.

“Despite these facts having been brought to the knowledge of the Minister, he kept pressing for a note for the Council of Ministers on the subject and expressed his annoyance on several occasions in this regard,” Gamlin said.

The senior IAS officer also said that as per rules, the city government is in no way involved in the administration of land except through the Lieutenant Governor who acts in these matters on the advice of DDA, in his capacity as its chairman. “Union Home Ministry in 1961 had enunciated a policy for acquisition, development and lease administration of lands in Delhi for various purposes,” Gamlin wrote in her letter.

The land so acquired called ‘Nazul land’ is required to be held in the name of the President of India with the Lieutenant Governor being vested with powers to administer the same.

Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Legislative Assembly Vijender Gupta today said the matter should be investigated thoroughly and appropriate action should be taken against the minister.

Gupta said the issue of free-holding the 10,000 industrial plots in the industrial areas of Bawana, Borgarh and Narela is a “sensitive” matter as it pertains to the fate of thousands of labourers working in those factories.

“Without the consent of the competent authority, the Delhi cabinet cannot issue orders pertaining to the land. But the minister’s conduct in the case to try to bypass the law not only shows his complete lack of experience but also hints at the malicious intent of the AAP government to cause another confrontation with the LG, to be seen as “us versus them” at the cost of the interest of the people affected by the order,” Gupta said in a statement.

Congress, however, extended its support to the concept of conversion of leasehold into freehold.

“We are supporting the concept of conversion of leasehold into freehold. What we are saying is Delhi government should know its limits and boundaries. Delhi government should try and do things which are directly under them.

But, we are supportive of conversion of leasehold into freehold,” Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee President Ajay Maken told reporters here.

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