Monday, October 30, 2017

Modi doled out huge concessions to Gujarat tycoons by "creating" mechanism for legalised corruption: Ex-BJP CM

Modi enjoying camel ride at Sharadotsav
By Our Representative
Starting with 2005, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Gujarat chef minister, created a well-oiled mechanism, under which he made top tycoons to fund, and also politically support, his well-publicized festivals and business meetings, including the biennial Vibrant Gujarat world business summits, and in return doled away huge concessions to them.
Calling it "legalised corruption", former BJP chief minister and industries minister under Modi in 2001-02, Suresh Mehta, who resigned from BJP in 2007, told media in Ahmedabad that this unique "Gujarat model" took shape starting with an August 5, 2005 government resolution (GR), which allowed state officials to open a separate account for the money received from business houses and use it in festivities.
"In complete violation of the Constitution, which bars any funds to be used for official purposes if they are not permitted by the legislature, the GR formed a committee consisting of ministers and government officials, which at its two formal meetings on August 16 and 22 asked district collector, Kutch, Pradeep Sharma, to open an account with State Bank of India (SBI), where the funds received for the first such festival, Rannotsav, held later that year, was kept", Mehta said.
Claiming to have received the information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act after "frequent denials" to show official records, for which he had to make several appeals, Mehta, who is not associated with any political party, said, "The records which I have received show that 453 big and small companies, private individuals, cooperative banks, cinema houses, petrol pumps, business associations, etc. were were made to fund the Sharadotsav."
Modi with Kutch collector Pradeep Sharma
"What is shocking is that, in this effort for Modi's officially-sponsored festival even village panchayats were not spared. As many as 136 of them, many extremely poor, were forced to give money for Sharadotsav. If they refused, they were forced to give just about Rs 500", Mehta said, handing over documents in support of his claims.
Pointing out that the total funds thus collected in the SBI account No of 090310007623 of Bhuj, Kutch district headquarter, was Rs 2.39 crore, Mehta said, "Officials wrote letters to business houses to fund the festival. Thus, the district collector wrote a letter to the Adani Port Ltd in Mundra, Kutch, to provide Rs 50 lakh. As against this, it sent across a cheque of Rs 25 lakh. Another business house, Welspun, gave Rs 55 lakh in four instalments."
Claiming that this "coincided" with tycoons being offered "huge" concessions, Mehta said, "For instance, soon after this, Welspun was given 48 acres of land in Kutch for kickstarting an industrial unit at the rate of Rs 15 per metre, while the actual market rate was Rs 200 per metre. Even the assessment government rate, called jantri, was Rs 78 per metre."
Revealing that the SBI account opened for receiving money from different sources till date has not been closed, and has gone into dormant, Mehta added, "According to my information, Welspun, which owns 1,600 acres of land in Kutch, has so far been given away concessions worth Rs 21,000 crore."
Noting how the money collected from different sources, especially business houses, was used, Mehta said, "Information received under RTI shows that Modi ate a Gujarati sweet dish made of milk and rice, doodh pauva, for Rs 12,270, rode on a camel cart whose beds and pillows cost 15,625, and a private individual, said to have been the guest of Modi, Mansi Soni, was paid Rs 5,153 against her mobile recharge and petrol."

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