Former union secretary and noted environmentalist Dr EAS Sarma decried the allotment of 20 acres of CRZ land in Kalingapatnam, a coastal village in Andhra Pradesh, in favor of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. He said it is illegal and highly objectionable.
Andhra Pradesh government, which has been in the thick of controversies over indiscriminate allotment of land to investors in resent past , has again allotted 20 acres of expensive land, classified as ‘unsurveyed coastal poramboke’ for the development of ‘Club Mahindra Beach Resort Project’.
A GO has been issued on May 31,2018
However, the allotment has been questioned by noted environmentalist and former government of India secretary EAS Sarma.
Writing a letter to D Sambasiva Rao, special chief secretary Ananta Ramu, secretary, department of Environment and MK Meena, Secretary, tourism, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Dr Sarma demanded that the GO issued on May 31, 2018 be revoked. He also warned that he would be constrained to seek judicial intervention if the orders were not revoked.
The reasons Dr Sarma cited to prove that the allotment of CRZ land to develop beach resort is illegal are here:
- No building construction is permitted within CRZ limits as per the CRZ Notification issued by Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MEFCC). Within CRZ limits, no borewells can be permiited. This has been made clear in the order dated 6-7-2007 in WP No 8177/2007 & order dated 8-10-2-12 in WP No 169/2012 of Hon’ble AP High Court.
- The land in question being a poramboke land within CRZ has considerable ecological significance. Such lands cannot be given away to any private party as per the order dated 28-1-2011 of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No 1132/2011, a copy of which is enclosed.
- The Poramboke land in question serves common public purposes. Matsyanarayana Swamy temple that is worshipped by the fishing community is located on thay land. Apparently, the local officials have pressurised the village community to say that they have no objection to shifting the temple to accommodate the luxury resort of MHRIL. This signifies the height of crony capitalism that seems to guide the political executive at present but it also shows the insensitivity of the government to the importance and the sanctity of a temple worshiped by the fishing folk and the political executive’s munificence to a private luxury resort meant for catering to the affluent sections of the society
- The value of the land, as per the basic value disclosed at the website of the State Registration Dept is Rs 58 lakhs per acre (the real market value is much higher), whereas the government orders indicate the rate at which it is being given to MHRIL to be only Rs 15 lakhs per acre. To give away a valuable government land to a profiteering private company at a rate 1/4ththe basic rate disclosed by the Registration Dept amounts to outright corruption that attracts the penal provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. In the 2-G spectrum case, the apex court had clearly cautioned the government not to dole out precious natural resources at rates lower than the market value.
Reminding senior officials that it is incumbent upon the civil servants like them “to resist such prima facie illegal land allotments that hurt the public interest”,Dr Sarma warned them that “failing to do so will drag you into penal proceedings”.
Sarma was surprised that the State’s political executive should run roughshod over the State’s resources while the civil servants have chosen to acquiesce!