Himachal renews licences of colonisers indicted for lapses

Shimla, Aug 22 (IANS) Only a year-and-half after a judicial commission indicted colonisers of 62 housing projects in the state for irregularities, the Virbhadra Singh government has renewed the licences and registration certificates of 18 such builders again this year.

This came to light Thursday through a written reply by Town and Country Planning Minister Sudhir Sharma in the assembly.

In the reply to a question of BJP member and former town and country planning minister Mohinder Singh, Sharma said the registration of 12 builders were renewed, while licences of six colonizers re-issued from Jan 1 to July 31 this year.

The development is significant as the Congress party, while in opposition, took advantage of delaying tactics by the previous BJP government, which announced in the assembly that all real estate transactions stood frozen.

The BJP government had admitted in December in the high court that it had not repealed the Himachal Pradesh Apartment and Property Regulation Act of 2005, which enables the builders to construct and sell flats under various categories, in spite of recommendations of a select committee of the house.

In an affidavit dated as Dec 4, 2012, the government said "the steps have been taken to introduce a new legislation but the fact is that the property regulation act has not been repealed as of now".

A division bench observed Dec 7, 2012: "Therefore, there will be a direction to the government, subject to the result of the writ petitions, to process the applications of the petitioners for the grant of licences".

The court's interim order came on the petitioners who said they were not granted licences under the existing Act.

The BJP government had constituted the one-man commission of Justice (retd.) D.P. Sood, a former judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, to probe 'benami' (illegal) land transactions in the state from 2003 to 2011 and look into violations of statutory provisions and administrative procedures.

The commission, in its 147-page report submitted to the government in April last year, recommended the withdrawal of the act.

The builders, indicted by the commission, whose licences and registration certificates were renewed by the Virbhadra government included Omaxe Ltd of Delhi, MDC Estates Private Ltd of Chandigarh, Amarnath Aggarwal Colonizers of Panchkula in Haryana, Manchanda and Manchanda Builders Private Ltd of Delhi and Gee City Builders Private Ltd of Chandigarh.

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