Maharashtra Government waived off Rs 3.75 crore from ‘Associated Journals’
Reply to an application filed under the Right to Information Act has revealed that in 1983, the Maharashtra Government had allotted leased land for a period of 30 years to the Associated Journals for building its press, Nehru memorial library and a research centre for Rs 1.31 crore. The allotment included the condition that the company would begin the construction within two years which was not done. Further, the company did not pay the amount in one instalment. The current market value of the land is estimated to be nearly Rs 250 crore and it was earlier reserved for building of hostel for students from Scheduled Castes. In the year 2000, the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh allotted a part of the same land to a housing society, Sai Prasad, floated by Congress leader Rajiv Chavan.
As per the the terms and conditions, the state government had a right to charge interest on the amount from the Associated Journals, which came out as Rs 3.75 crore in 2001. However, therest was waived off by the then Revenue Minister Ashok Chavan.
RTI Activist Anil Galgali has claimed that the Associated Journals delayed the construction by managing to obtain repeated land lease extensions from the state government which would expire on December 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. Arguing that the construction has been initiated by the company just six months ago to save the lease which is a violation of the rules, he has demanded that there should be no commercial exploitatation of land and the same may be given to build a hostel.
The ‘Associated Journals’ owned the now defunct newspapers National Herald and Quami Awaz and has been in news following the allegations by Subramaniam Swami that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi together have 76 per cent stake in a company that took over Associated Journals’ debts. Summons has been issued by a Delhi court recently to the Gandhis in connection with the Congress decision to give interest-free loan to this company.