Ramdev’s Patanjali has been in violation of its agreement with the Maharashtra government to acquire 200 acres of land at throwaway prices in February 2006.
Patanjali had acquired 200 acres of land at Mihan on 19 February 2016 after it signed an MoU with the Maharashtra government for an ayurvedic products unit. The company had performed the bhoomipujan (religious rituals) on 10 September, 2016 amidst a huge fanfare, but the production at the site has yet to commence.
This, according to many, is in direct violation of the agreement.
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, senior Congress leader and former Member of Parliament, Sanjay Nirupam said that giving Ramdev hundreds of acres of land at throwaway prices was a part of massive corruption, where even the state’s chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis is personally involved.
He said, “There’s no secret that the governments up and down the country have been giving thousands of acres of land at throwaway prices to Ramdev, who had actively campaigned for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP government in Maharashtra too gave away hundreds of acres of land to Ramdev primarily to compensate for his help to the saffron party in the elections.
“Ramdev has been in violation of agreement and his cheques too have bounced. So, it’s clear that the Patanjali’s agreement with Mahrashtra government is effectively in abeyance now. This points to a huge scam involving Fadnavis himself since the land at Mihan is owned by Maharashtra Airport Development Authority, which is headed by the Maharashtra chief minister. So, it was at his behest that the MADC had given 200 acres of land to Ramdev’s company at cheap prices.”
Bombay High Court is currently hearing Nirupam’s petition alleging corruption and crony capitalism by the Fadnavis government. In May this year, Bombay High Court had sought to know from the Maharashtra government if over 600 acres of land in Nagpur was allotted to Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda at a throwaway price and on what grounds “concession”, if any, was given to the company.
Crony capitalism and death knell development
Patanjali was awarded 200 acres of land at Mihan for Rs 25 lakh per acre even though the market price for the same piece of land was Rs 60 lakh per acre. To recover the loss, the Fadnavis government hiked the rate for new comers, who wanted to set up plants at Mihan. But the new rate of Rs 70 lakh per acre did not have many takers, thereby bringing the otherwise ambitious project to a grinding halt.
As many as 20 companies had invested in the Mihan project in the first two years. However, the next one year has attracted only five companies, that too smaller ones.
Nirupam said that Fadnavis, who hails from Nagpur, had ‘an amazing opportunity’ to develop the region through the Mihan project as it was situated in his home city.
“Unfortunately the Mihan project has fallen victim to his crony capitalism. He has missed a huge opportunity to develop the Vidarbha region,” Nirupam said.
Officers punished for RTI
Key information officers who had helped make public, the RTI documents on land allotment to Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda in March this year, were recently transferred less than a fortnight later, raising questions on whether the officials were penalised for their actions.
The two information officers were penalised after IAS officer Bijay Kumar was shunted out of the finance department shortly after he questioned the basis of a 75% discount for land awarded to Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd in March this year.
Two information officers punished for helping make the RTI documents on land allotment public were Atul Thakare and Sameer Gokhale.
MADC’s marketing manager Thakare who was the PIO of its Nagpur branch was moved to Mumbai. And marketing manager Gokhale, who was a PIO in Mumbai was transferred to Nagpur.
Nirupam claims that he’s stumbled upon some evidence that conclusively proves the personal involvement of Fadnavis in the ‘land scam’ at Mihan.