HC orders vigilance probe into misappropriation of tourism funds

HYDERABAD: A division bench of Telangana High Court comprising Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice C.V. Bhaskar Reddy directed the vigilance commissioner to probe the alleged misappropriation of Rs 234 crore in the department of youth advancement, tourism and culture concerning the allotment of lands to private organisations under public private partnership mode.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bakka

Judson, a Congress activist, who requested the court to direct appropriate

action on private parties such as Ocean Park Multi Tech Private Limited,

Hyderabad Trade Expo Pvt Ltd, Jubilee Hills Resorts Pvt Ltd, Jubilee Hall

Convention Centre, Jalavihar Entertainment Pvt Ltd, Secunderabad Golf

Course, Prasad Media Corporation Ltd, Pantaloon India Limited and GSG

Constructions Pvt Ltd.

He submitted that the department violated the terms of allotment of land in

their favour under build, operate and transfer (BOT) scheme in public

private partnership mode in terms of rents to the state government.

His counsel argued that the companies entered into public-private

partnership mode agreement with the tourism department and were allotted the

work of developing 13 projects. The companies leased out valuable

government lands to build tourism projects. As per GO 869, these companies

had to pay lease rental and additional development premium towards the lands

allotted to them, but they ignored payment, due to which the government lost

Rs 234 crore, counsel said.

Further, the counsel informed the court that recently, the government had taken a

the decision to waive Rs 234 crore which was due from private companies.

Government counsel said the land parcels which were allotted to these

companies were in PPP mode, and the business with these companies was

contractual in nature.

As the petitioner already submitted a representation to the director general

of vigilance and enforcement department, the court opined that it would be

appropriate to direct the vigilance department to take appropriate steps

towards the conduct of the investigation to unearth lapses on the part of the

official respondents and the private firms in the discharge of their obligations

towards payment of rent.

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