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Haryana expands probe into Gurgaon land deals


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.


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Archaeological Sites Dating Back Thousands of Years Found Around Britain, Thanks to the Heat

The archaeologists are mapping the sites to determine the significance of the remains beneath and how best to protect them.

A view shows parched grass from the lack of rain in Greenwich Park, backdropped by the Royal Museums Greenwich and the skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf business district, during what has been the driest summer for many years in London. VOA

Britain’s hottest summer in decades has revealed cropmarks across the country showing the archaeological sites of Iron Age settlements, Roman farms and even Neolithic monuments dating back thousands of years, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Cropmarks — patterns of shading in crops and grass seen most clearly from the air — form faster in hot weather as the fields dry out, making this summer’s heat wave ideal for discovering such sites.

Archaeologists at the public body Historic England have been making the most of the hot weather to look for patterns revealing the ancient sites buried below, from Yorkshire in the north down to Cornwall in the southwest.

Archeology , Neolithic artefacts. england
Neolithic remains (representational image). Wikimedia

“We’ve discovered hundreds of new sites this year spanning about 6,000 years of England’s history,” said Damian Grady, aerial reconnaissance manager at Historic England.

“Each new site is interesting in itself, but the fact we’re finding so many sites over such a large area is filling in a lot of gaps in knowledge about how people lived and farmed and managed the landscape in the past,” he said.

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The archaeologists are mapping the sites to determine the significance of the remains beneath and how best to protect them. While some may be significant enough to merit national protection from development, local authorities or farmers may be left to decide what to do at other sites.

“We’ll hopefully get the help of farmers to help protect some of these undesignated sites,” Grady said. (VOA)