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Haryana expands probe into Gurgaon land deals

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Chandigarh: The Haryana government has expanded the ambit of inquiry into the issuance of licences for housing colonies on prime land in Haryana’s Gurgaon city, officials said here on Sunday.

Gurgaon_biodiversity_park_240The commission set up by the government under Justice S.N. Dhingra (retd.) in May 2015 will now probe the grant of all licences to colonisers and individuals in four villages of Gurgaon by the previous Congress government led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

The four villages are Sihi, Shikohpur, Kherki Daula and Sikanderpur Bada, where Gurgaon’s Sector 78 to 86 are now situated.

The Haryana cabinet took the decision at a meeting held in New Delhi on Saturday night just before Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar left for a 10-day trip to the United States and Canada to attract investments in the state.

The BJP government in May ordered a “probe into issues concerning the grant of licence (s) for developing commercial colonies by the Department of Town and Country Planning, Haryana, to some entities in Sector 83, Gurgaon”.

The one-man commission will also probe the grant of licences by the Hooda government to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s company and other firms for developing commercial properties in Gurgaon’s Sector 83.

The Dhingra commission had pointed out that earlier terms of reference were hindering its probe into the grant of licences. The commission is headed by the retired Delhi high court judge.

Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda recently said that there was nothing amiss in the grant of licences for developing colonies.

“Everything was done as per the rules. There was no wrongdoing by our government,” Hooda had said.

The commission would also probe the subsequent transfer or disposal of land, allegations of private enrichment, ineligibility of beneficiaries under the rules, and other connected matters.

Vadra and others were allegedly granted favours by the previous Congress government. In Vadra’s case, the licences were allegedly issued within a short time.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had pointed out that Vadra’s firm, Skylight Hospitality, had not submitted documents on financial adequacy. Despite that, the firm was granted a licence.

The commission will probe the circumstances under which licences were granted, whether the said entities were eligible for grant of licences as per the applicable laws and rules, whether the transfer of licences by the original licensee within a short period of time to other entities was violative of laws and rules and whether the town and country planning department (TCPD) had contemplated the transactions with reference to the loss of revenue to the government.

The commission was asked to submit its report to the state government within six months from the date of its first sitting.

The probe panel has also been asked to recommend “measures to take corrective action to prevent loss of revenue to the public exchequer and also prevention of undue private enrichment at the cost of the public exchequer in such cases in the future”.

The role of officers in the grant of licences will also be looked into. Complaints against the grant of licences and the CAG report findings will form the basis of the inquiry.

(IANS)

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Return to Jammu- A Novel About a Journey

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother's struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

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He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Sanasar, Jammu and Kasmir- wikimedia commons

This is the engrossing tale of Balan, a kid from South India who grows up in the towns of Punjab, Jammu and Haryana. It captures the eventful journey of Balan’s childhood, his schooling, and the friends he makes and loses due to transfers of his father, serving in the Indian Army.

“Return to Jammu” is a first-person narration and with the timelines, places and real-life personalities and events, the reader gets a feeling that it is an autobiographical novel. The author clarifies that all characters and the story per se are fictional but confesses to borrowing liberally from many episodes of his childhood in telling the story.

“If you happen to be acquainted with me enough to perceive a passing resemblance of me in Balan, you would be right; and yet if you find the resemblance rather tenuous and liberally adulterated, you will be equally right too,” says the author in a preliminary note.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college.
V. Raghunathan-Author of the book Return to Jammu, wikimedia commons

Balan, son of a junior commissioned officer hailing from Kerala and having Tamilian roots, is born in the Ambala cantonment in 1954. He narrates his story even before his birth, relying on family tellings.

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother’s struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father’s transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college. Because of his diminutive size, he is saddled with sobriquets like pocket edition, Lilliputian and Madrasi, and sees his self-esteem falling dangerously.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Jammu and Kashmir Map, wikimedia commons

It’s at Satwari near Jammu that he develops childhood friendship with many, most importantly with Jeevan Asha or Jeesha, who was two years older and also taller than him. Soon, however, Balan’s father is again transferred to Ambala and he is separated from his friends, especially Jeesha. He writes letters to his friends and receives responses from all, except Jeesha.

Overcoming all odds and with hard work, Balan completes his studies and joins the State Bank of India. Now a confident young man, he works hard and finally makes it to the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. (It was at IIM, Ahmedabad, that the author taught finance.)

Also Read: 70 years after Independence power reaches Elephanta Isle near Mumbai 

There he comes across a girl called Jasmine Pundith. He believes she is his good old buddy Jeesha. Bu she shows no sign of recognition and when he tries to remind her about their childhood friendship, Jasmine tells him that she is a citizen of the US and has no link with Jammu.

Convinced that she is none other than Jeesha, Balan travels to Delhi to find out more about her family. He even returns to Jammu, where he meets her brother Niranjan. What Balan comes to know from him forms the climax of the story.

The book is worth a read also for the author’s eye for detail, whether it is canal system of Jammu, the picturesque Kashmir valley, especially Uri, the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi, or a visit by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (IANS)