IF YOU think that the Right to
Information Act (RTI) has provided you with the freedom to secure access to
information under the control of public authorities, consistent with public
interest try asking LDA
Sample this. The LDA was asked how
many completion certificates were issued by it to the commercial complexes in
the past year? For the uninitiated, the development body is supposed to provide
completion certificate to buildings in order to ensure that the construction
has been done in accordance with the building plan approved by it.
Here’s the response of the city’s
development regulator. “In response to your query about the number of completion
certificates issued to commercial complexes in the city in the year 2005, we
would like to inform you that this information is comparative and is not
compiled by the department. Hence it would not be possible to provide the
same,” states the reply signed by assistant Public Information Officer of LDA
Uma Shankar Singh. If you cannot make a head or tail of it, forget it, neither
The second question related to the
number of plots allotted to people’s representatives and bureaucrats by the
department in the last one-year? The answer: “We do not allot plots to
individuals on the basis of their vocation. Nor do we seek any such information
from the applicant in our application form.”
Pray, how then did the department
went public with a long list of names of bureaucrats and politicians who were
allotted plots in a similar manner by previous regimes immediately after the
controversial Vipul Khand plot allotment issue hit the headlines.
Lastly, the development agency was
asked about the number and kind of land uses of Master Plan 2001 were changed
by it in the Master Plan 2021 of the city?
“The information sought is available in the Master Plan booklet, which
is available in the LDA store and can be purchased from there,” was the only
coherent reply furnished by the agency. It is evident from the LDA’s behavior
that the RTI remains a stillborn baby and that it would take a long time for authorities
in charge to get used to sharing information/documents with the citizens.
leave 400 Ashrayaheen!
Tariq Khan, None
Updated: Feb 16, 2006 00:16 IST
Authority’s Jankipuram housing scheme is proving to be a can of worms. Already
reeling under the ripples created by the suspension of its 14 officials, the
department has been hit by yet another scam. The only difference this time round
is that those at the receiving end of the devious ways of the development
agency are poor and underprivileged sections of society, who have been taken
for a ride for a roof over their heads.
The lid was blown
off the property racket after the authorities ordered an inquiry following a
barrage of complaints from the allottees stating that the house allotted to
them under Ashrayheen Yojana belonged to someone else. The word soon reached
the mandarins in the housing department. But, an inquiry in the matter was
already underway when special secretary GP Mishra wrote to LDA Vice Chairman BB
Singh on January 31, seeking a detailed report within 15 days.
It is different
matter that none of these officials had anticipated such a scandalous outcome.
Instances abound in
which one single-room unit was allotted to as many as five persons! Sounds
unbelievable? Sample this. House number 1/64 in Sector J of Jankipuram housing
scheme on Sitapur Road was first allotted to Kalika Prasad on January 29, 2002.
Thereafter by March 7, 2003, the same house was again allotted to Usha, Shyam
Misra, Pratibha and Asha Gupta by officers’ in-charge of the scheme without
following any laid down procedure or caring to crosscheck whether the property
in question was vacant.
Obviously, some of
these thick-skinned unscrupulous babus, suspended several times over in reaping
such frauds and again got reinstated, were more interested in counting the
moolah than to care for such nittygritty. Hence, for every Usha, who lives in
house number 1/64, there are at least four other claimants for the property.
Today, hundreds of such Pratibhas, Ashas and Mishras continue to run from
pillar to post in search of that elusive dwelling that was simultaniously
allotted to them. Take another example. Dildar occupies house number 1/69 in
the scheme. He was allotted this house on August 4, 2004. But between January
29, 2002 and August 2004, this same house was allotted to one Ramnath Yadav,
Maya Devi, SC Yadav and Ankit Kumar, who armed with their respective allotment
letter, are knocking at the doors of the officers to gain possession of the
only piece of property they own.
scrutinized property records of 1149 Ashrayheen/LIG houses in the scheme so
far. Our findings reveal that there are at least 400 people, who have been
fraudulently allotted an already allotted property by babus looking after the
scheme,” said an LDA officer supervising the probe. He said only 642 out of
these 1,149 houses were allotted through a lottery draw and the remaining 507
properties were allotted directly.
“Five lottery draws
for 527 applicants and 115 people (read encroachers) dislodged from Gaushala
and Raidas Mandir were held between July 31, 2002 and April 29, 2003,” he
added. Though the probe report is ready, its findings for reasons best known to
LDA bosses are still being kept under wraps.
CBI spear in LDA guts
Updated: Feb 23, 2006 00:20 IST
By ordering a CBI probe into LDA's
Jankipuram land scam, the Allahabad High Court seems to have done something
that the officials of the development agency have always dreaded. Why? Because
Jankipuram is just the tip of an iceberg and an independent probe by the
country's premiere investigating agency could result in several
such skeletons tumbling out of LDA's cupboard.
Not surprising therefore, the State
Government is toying with the idea of filing a revision petition before the
Allahabad High Court to reconsider the directive for a CBI probe on the ground
that an inquiry in the matter has already been ordered by it. If sources in the
Housing Department are to be believed instructions to this effect have been
issued from the top and a team of officials is scheduled to leave for Allahabad
on Thursday to make out their case in this connection.
“Though the HC has specifically asked
the CBI to investigate only the 123 fraudulent property transactions of the
Jankipuram housing scheme, a thorough job by the investigating agency could
make the court to widen the probe's scope,” said an officer. And this is
precisely what is bothering the powers that be.
“We will plead that a senior IAS
officer is already looking into the matter. In any case this was too small a
matter to require an investigation by a central agency,” said another official
on condition of anonymity.
Incidentally, this is not the first
time that the court has called for a CBI probe in a property scam related to
the LDA. According to sources, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court
had ordered a CBI inquiry in a similar property fraud in Viram Khand of Gomti Nagar.
“The CBI had even registered an FIR in the case but the court later, on a plea,
agreed to let the Commissioner, Lucknow conduct the inquiry,” recalled an
In the Jankipuram scam, the LDA has
so far maintained that the buck stopped at the level of the joint secretaries
and the 'babus.' The Allahabad High Court, apparently, was not so convinced
about the LDA's stand on the issue. In their order on Tuesday, Justice VM Sahai
and Justice Barkat Ali Zaidi, have said that the “CBI will be free to question
the vice-chairman, secretary and other officers posted in LDA in the relevant
period with regard to matters in question.”
The Registrar General, High Court,
Allahabad will send a copy of this order along with the photocopy of the entire
record of the leading writ petition to the Director, CBI within 24 hours,
directed the judges.
This, going strictly by the
allegations leveled against his seniors by the suspended Allahabad Development
Authority secretary RN Singh in his petition, would bring at least seven IAS
officers under the CBI scanner, who were posted in the LDA when the scam took
place. Among the vice chairman, they include Dinesh Rai, Atul Gupta, Anil Kumar
Gupta and PL Loi and KK Upadhyay, MA Khan and RK Singh as LDA secretary. While
Upadhyay has ever since retired, all other officials occupy senior positions in
State and Central Government presently.
By ordering a CBI probe into LDA's Jankipuram land scam, the Allahabad
High Court seems to have done something that the officials of the development
agency have always dreaded. Why? Because Jankipuram is just the tip of an
iceberg and an independent probe by the country's premiere investigating agency
could result in several such skeletons tumbling out of LDA's
Not surprising therefore, the State Government is toying with the idea
of filing a revision petition before the Allahabad High Court to reconsider the
directive for a CBI probe on the ground that an inquiry in the matter has
already been ordered by it. If sources in the Housing Department are to be
believed instructions to this effect have been issued from the top and a team
of officials is scheduled to leave for Allahabad on Thursday to make out their
case in this connection.
“Though the HC has specifically asked the CBI to investigate only the
123 fraudulent property transactions of the Jankipuram housing scheme, a thorough
job by the investigating agency could make the court to widen the probe's
scope,” said an officer. And this is precisely what is bothering the powers
“We will plead that a senior IAS officer is already looking into the
matter. In any case this was too small a matter to require an investigation by
a central agency,” said another official on condition of anonymity.
Incidentally, this is not the first time that the court has called for a
CBI probe in a property scam related to the LDA. According to sources, the
Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had ordered a CBI inquiry in a
similar property fraud in Viram Khand of Gomti Nagar. “The CBI had even registered
an FIR in the case but the court later, on a plea, agreed to let the
Commissioner, Lucknow conduct the inquiry,” recalled an official.
In the Jankipuram scam, the LDA has so far maintained that the buck
stopped at the level of the joint secretaries and the 'babus.' The Allahabad
High Court, apparently, was not so convinced about the LDA's stand on the
issue. In their order on Tuesday, Justice VM Sahai and Justice Barkat Ali
Zaidi, have said that the “CBI will be free to question the vice-chairman,
secretary and other officers posted in LDA in the relevant period with regard
to matters in question.”
The Registrar General, High Court, Allahabad will send a copy of this
order along with the photocopy of the entire record of the leading writ
petition to the Director, CBI within 24 hours, directed the judges.
This, going strictly by the allegations leveled against his seniors by
the suspended Allahabad Development Authority secretary RN Singh in his
petition, would bring at least seven IAS officers under the CBI scanner, who
were posted in the LDA when the scam took place. Among the vice chairman, they
include Dinesh Rai, Atul Gupta, Anil Kumar Gupta and PL Loi and KK Upadhyay, MA
Khan and RK Singh as LDA secretary. While Upadhyay has ever since retired, all
other officials occupy senior positions in State and Central Government
ending, probe yet to begin
Tariq Khan, None
Updated: Feb 28, 2006 01:31 IST
FORGET AN inquiry
report. The one-man commission constituted post Vipul Khand plots allotment
fiasco by the State Government to probe the allotment process, prevalent in the
development authorities and UP Avas Evam Vikas Parishad (UPAVP), is yet to take
controversy kicked off by ‘out-of-turn’ allotments of 28 prime plots in Vipul
Khand of Gomti Nagar, the State Government had appointed a commission under
Justice (retired) RH Zaidi on September 6, 2005 to inquire the plot allotment
process in development authorities. Apart from the allotment procedure, Justice
Zaidi was asked to browse through all residential plots allotted by development
authorities and the UPAVP since 1975 and submit his report within six months.
But with just about
a week to go before the Commission’s tenure comes to an end on March 5, Justice
Zaidi is yet to make any headway in the inquiry thanks to the total lack of
cooperation from development authorities and UPAVP. On February 22, Justice
Zaidi wrote a letter to District Magistrate RN Tripathi after his reminders to
development authorities and UPAVP to furnish relevant documents/records (see
box) for the purpose of inquiry failed to evoke any response.
“I gave them
(development authorities) opportunities twice vide orders dated 7/12/2005 and
17/12/2005, but they have not complied with the orders…The inaction on the part
of authorities amounts to contempt but instead of taking action I am
authorising you (DM) to recover all relevant files regarding allotment of
residential plots from the office of LDA since 1975,” states the letter. A
similar missive has been sent to other DM’s to summon all documents from the
23-odd development authorities in their respective jurisdiction.
And though the ball
has been set rolling by the DM, who has asked his deputy ADM (land acquisition)
SMA Rizvi to ensure compliance of the order and LDA Vice Chairman BB Singh, it
is too little too late. The upshot: As is the custom with all such panel of
inquiries, the State Government would have to extend the tenure of this
Commission to enable it to complete its findings for whatever they are worth.
Probe? Or just a guided tour?
Tariq Khan, None
Updated: Mar 06, 2006 00:30 IST
probe panel set up by the State Government to probe Friday’s communal flare-up
visited the affected localities on Sunday to make an on-the-spot assessment of
the situation. The panel, however, also took along with them those in the line
The inquiry team in
question comprises Agriculture Production Commissioner NC Bajpai and Additional
Director General of Police (ADG) Bua Singh. And those who helped them with the
investigation on Sunday included District Magistrate RN Tripathi and SSP
Ashutosh Pandey, whose role in handling the situation is itself a subject of
investigation. Though, the DM remained in the background, SSP Pandey virtually
took the probe team on a guided tour of the riot-torn areas.
therefore, residents of the affected localities, who had gathered in large
number to narrate the sequence of event to the officers, questioned the
impartiality of the investigation when those accountable for the disturbances
were seen assisting in steering its course. The panel has already recorded the
statements of both the DM and the SSP.
whistle-stop tour by the probe team began at 5.15 pm from Qaiserbagh Kotwali.
Both Bajpai and Singh remained closetted with senior administration and police
officers for over 45 minutes inside the anteroom of SP (West) before the VIP cavalcade
sped off towards Latouche Road. The first stop was Khalsa Gun House on Latouche
Road where SSP Pandey told the two-member team the first casualty of the riot
had occurred. A crowd soon began collecting at the site.
After watching the
proceedings for a while, a couple of vegetable vendors finally managed to
muster enough courage to approach the officers with their own version of how
the trouble began. But they were politely told by the APC that he would call
them to record their statements later.
The team then,
reached main Aminabad Crossing. Once again SSP Ashutosh Pandey summarised the
incident and what went wrong in the locality. Next stop was the Bank of Baroda
building that still bore the scars of Friday’s communal frenzy.
The chief manager
of the BOB lamented despite several reminders they were yet to get an arms
license from the administration for the bank’s security personnel. IG OP
Tripathi promised to look into the matter. The procedure was repeated at Mahesh
Prasad Street in Moulviganj where a boy was killed.
The APC took down
the notes all through the investigation; the ADG did most of the questioning.
The probe panel has been asked to submit its report within two working days by
the State Government.
The deadline ends
on Monday. Where is the time to record the statement of witnesses? As for
determining lapses and fixing accountability, two officials have been
transferred while an inspector has already been placed under suspension. The
only procedural formality that remained was completed on Sunday. Is anybody
interested in the outcome?
You may land in a frying PAN!
Chowdhury & M Tariq Khan
Updated: Mar 22, 2006 00:05 IST
BEWARE! Your PAN card or
driving licence are becoming a handy tool for unscrupulous elements to
commit identity frauds in the city.
The photocopies of PAN cards or
driving licences with photographs of the original card-holder being replaced
with another are only a tip of the ice berg of the number of ways being
utilised to submit an application for seeking a wide variety of loans, opening
a savings bank or Demat account by unscrupulous elements.
Take the case of SK Singh, a junior
engineer, a resident of C-312 Sector D Mansarovar LDA Colony. Singh was
surprised when about a fortnight back, he received an acknowledgment letter
from the main branch of the State Bank of India thanking him for opening an
account (number 01190116051) with them.
Since he had not opened any such
account, the junior engineer taking it to be a case of mistaken identity
approached the bank to clear the misunderstanding.
To his utter disbelief, he discovered
that not only somebody had opened the account by using his tampered PAN card and
cellphone bill but had also deposited over Rs 3 lakh in it. Singh was aghast
when instead of cooperating the bank authorities reprimanded him for reporting
the matter so late to them. “I told them that since I am presently posted in
Mahoba, I had not seen the acknowledgement letter, which though received by a
member of my family was lying unopened,” he said.
“I then tried to recollect how the
forger could have procured my PAN and cellphone bill. It struck to me that I
had attached photocopies of these documents for opening a Demat account with
Sumna, a sub-broker of Fair Intermediate Investment, a share trading firm, said
the junior engineer.
Subsequent investigations both by the
police and Singh himself zeroed in on one Rohit Singh employed with Sumna. “Rohit
not only forged my documents but also that of one Ratua Watal, a teacher in
Awadh Girls Degree College, as introducer in opening the account in my
name with the SBI,” said Singh. Simultaneously, he also opened a demat account
under my name with Stock Holding Corporation of India at Shri Ram Towers and
with Ventura Securities. He then took the shares of one of the customer of the
firm (one DN Agarwal) and got them transferred in my name from the Stockholding
Corporation and sold them through Ventura Securities for Rs 3.09 lakh and
deposited the cheque with the SBI account, recounts Singh.
The city’s broking houses have their
own stories to tell: “We had lodged an FIR against two persons some months back
in the city who were caught with photocopies of fake driving licenses attached
to the document for opening a Demat account with one of the share depository
participants in the city. The original driving license belonged to one of our
clients. The photocopy of the card had the photo tampered with to submit fake
documents”, Nitin Saxena, Vice President Karvy Stock Broking Ltd, Lucknow told
It is not just this grave issue
of photocopies of PAN cards or
driving licenses being tampered, the problem is compounded by people who might
present a fake PAN card and driving license which look so “real” on
verification. The only solution to deal with such a problem is to implement the
system of “biometrics” (using fingerprints as identity) to check all
kinds of identity frauds, he said.
The Income Tax Department had now
rigorously started physical verification of proof of residence of all
applicants applying for new PAN cards in the city. The scam related to
multiple Demat accounts being opened by a single person in Ahmedabad had now
prompted the Income Tax Department to issue cards only after proper physical
verification of applicant’s proof of residence”, Saxena added.
“Various types of frauds are
committed by people using PAN cards of the assesses not only in UP but across
the country. We would certainly investigate cases of “photocopies of PAN
cards” which had been tampered with in any application be it opening of bank
accounts or applying for a loan. The people who have been victims of
identity frauds could come to the Income Tax Department and report such cases
in writing to the senior officials for action”, a senior IT official told HT.
An enclave of brothels, drug joints & mafia
M Tariq Khan
Updated: Apr 09, 2006 02:02 IST
IT WAS billed to be
a state-of-the-art colony with garden, swimming pool, market, gymnasium etc
etc. But what we have is a shameful stretch called Nehru Enclave with brothels
and drug joints as criminals rule the roost.
This colony, in the
heart of the city (Gomti Nagar), has 800 flats but only 300 are legally
occupied. And the rest are with shady characters.
Such is the scare
among the authorised residents that after sunset they avoid stepping out of
their houses as anti-social elements are seen lurking on every nook and corner
of the colony.
The enclave was
planned to be LDA’s dream colony. The dream has been shattered. The residents
are now forced to live in filth and fear.
Though the price of
a flat here is around Rs 12 lakh one can get a flat on rent at Rs 500 per
month. Unbelievable! Power and water supply is free. All one has to do is to
break the lock of a flat and barge in with belongings. If a potential buyer
turns up don’t be panicky, contact the ‘LDA babu’ for an alternate arrangement.
Well known names of
the underworld -- Mukhtar Ansari, Babloo Srivastava, Dhananjay Singh, Abhay
Singh, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and Brijesh Singh -- have occupied several
flats here. Criminal gangs carrying sophisticated firearms and moving in the
dead of night are a common sight. Trigger-happy gangsters often fire in the air
causing panic among the residents.
administration has established a police outpost and constables have been
deputed there. But the outpost remains deserted, even as the constables have
grabbed adjacent flats. Residents have been left pondering over their fate as
illegal activities run right under the nose of the police and LDA officials.
reporters visited the colony at night to take stock of the situation on the
request of some authorised residents. When they were near a flat suddenly two
girls jumped out of the balcony of the flat and ran towards a car parked on the
road. Three youths jumped out of the same balcony and chased the girls but they
sped away in the car.
At another flat
there was no response from inside even after continuous knocks.
The reporters then
pushed the door and walked in. Around half-a-dozen youths were lying in an
inebriated state with liquor and ganja scattered around.
The colony has been divided into four sectors -- Rupayan, Vatayan, Pushpayan
and Premayan. The worst-effected are Pushpayan and Premayan, located in close
vicinity of the Juggauli village.
“We are helpless”
the residents said. “After investing Rs 10 to 15 lakh we are left with no other
option but to remain mute spectators to the activities of anti-social elements.
No one is ready to purchase our flats,” they said.
Fear was writ large
on the face of the residents though they talked freely about their problem, but
with request that their names should not figure in the newspaper report. The
ladies informed that few flats had been converted into makeshift brothels. “The
customers start coming at dusk and stay till early morning. They pass lewd
remarks at the girls and women moving on the road,” they said.
The residents had
informed SSP Ashutosh Pandey and SO of Gomtinagar police station about their
woes, but in vain. “We have been left to the wolves,” an elderly woman said
adding: “There is no boundary wall, no security and criminals roam freely. It
is difficult to leave the house for a day or two, you never know who will break
the lock and occupy your house”, said another resident.
Few days back they
met the LDA VC BB Singh and drew his attention towards the problems. The VC
constituted a three-members committee comprising LDA officials KK Singh,
Bhupendra Vir Singh and YK Jain to look into the problems. But none of them
have visited the colony so far.
We are helpless, says LDA
THE LDA today could
not agree more with the plight of the Nehru Enclave residents. “Yes, the colony
has become a haven for criminals. But we are helpless. What we need is a heavy
contingent of police accompanied by a magistrate to evict these outlaws and
restore law and order in the colony,” an LDA official, who, for obvious
reasons, wishes to remain anonymous, made this telling comment when contacted
by Hindustan Times.
Henchmen of some of
the most dreaded mafiosi and anti-social elements have made un-allotted flats
of this colony as their hideouts, said the official. But they are not the only
source of nuisance. One reason for LDA’s inertia on the issue is the fact that
the lackeys of its own officials have forcibly occupied some flats in the
illegal occupants would be a tough task as they may offer stiff resistance.
Anything can happen, that is why we are insisting that a magistrate should also
be present in case things turn violent during the operation,” he pointed out.
sources in LDA, apart from the supervisory staff, some engineers of the
department have minted huge amount of money in the name of carrying out
maintenance and civic related work in the colony. “An amount of Rs 2
crore was sanctioned during former LDA VC Manoj Singh’s tenure for carrying out
necessary repair and maintenance work but the colony remains a concrete mess,”
said another senior official, who was approached by the colony’s residents in
personnel that were deployed to keep anti-socials at bay till such time a
proper wall around the colony (as promised by the LDA in the brochure of the
scheme) was built, too, have been withdrawn without notice. “There are frequent
quarrels among the residents over lack of parking space. Though the colony has
sufficient number of garages they again are occupied by encroachers,” said an
LDA officer adding that only recently one such garage was got vacated with the
help of department’s enforcement section.
officer in-charge of the scheme KK Singh was not available for comments,
executive engineer YK Jain refused to specify any time frame to get the
anti-social elements evicted. “All I can tell you is that a drive in this
connection would be launched soon,” he said.
Scraping Awadh sky
Khan and Siddhartha Mathur,
Updated: Apr 16, 2006 01:24 IST
LESS THAN a decade
ago, the suggestion of a flat in a high-rise building in Lucknow invited a
smirk unless it was a job perquisite. The argument against investing in a flat
would be : why buy a property in which only the ceiling is yours and not one in
which you become the owner of the land as well. Higher disposable income,
smaller family size, double income couples and unheard of pay packages have
contributed to the profusion of housing schemes, mostly by private players,
offering paradise within a 1000 square feet.
“There has been for
decades a deficit between demand and availability of houses in our country,”
reasons Sudhir Halwasiya of Halwasiya Properties, also secretary of the UP Real
Estate Developers’ Council (UPREDCO).
“The concept of
housing societies promotes community living and on the other hand, checks the
shortage of housing options,” he adds.
Sure enough, from
22 lakh in 1991, the city’s population is likely to touch the 40-lakh mark by
2011. “This means, on an average 11,000 dwelling units will be required per
year,” says director State Urban Development Agency Diwakar Tripathi.
In view of this,
the LDA would give shape to its Gomti Nagar extension project in two phases
with 1333 acre of land to be developed in the first and 5,500 acre in the
The cityscape today
reflects the change in the mindset. Instead of looking askance at them as
matchboxes or pigeonholes, passers-by and investors are actually ogling at some
of the multi-storeyed residential and commercial complexes that have come up in
The two proud
projects by Omaxe — one in Vibhuti Khand Gomti Nagar and the other on the Rae
Bareli Road — dispel the notion that living in flats is middle class or the
option of the not so affluent.
“We are offering
three bedroom flats with add-ons like jacuzzi bath tubs and shower cubicles
within the apartment and the facility of swimming pool, health club, recreation
hubs, etc.,” says marketing executive Radha Mathur.
The first stop was
the block that houses Premayan type flats occupied illegally by daily wage
earners. They were told to collect their belongings and beat it even as the
staff of LDA’s property section put their own locks on the doors of these
flats. Things were moving smoothly till the LDA officials decided to head
towards the Rupayan block, which houses the affluent. Calls from the mafia dons
and political leaders started pouring in on their cell phones even as a former
student leader of Lucknow University Ram Singh Rana appeared on the scene along
with a bunch of gun-toting cronies. '
however, continued. A search of R 215 flat led to a haul of several packets of
black salts along with gunny bags carrying the label of Gope Tea Estate.
Likewise, an air-conditioner in R 67 not only demonstrated the financial status
of its illegal occupant but also the fact that they had abandoned the premises
in haste. “We have given time till Monday to the remaining encroachers and will
resume the drive on Tuesday,” said Jain.
NGOs enjoy foreign mewa for no sewa!
M Tariq Khan
Updated: Apr 17, 2006 00:38 IST
WITH HIGH-SOUNDING titles like Mahila Sewa Trust, Adarsh Sewa Sansthan,
they call themselves non-profit organizations working for public good. But the
only ‘sewa’ (service) they seem to have rendered so far is to line their own
pockets with foreign funds collected in the name of such overt welfare schemes.
The district administration here has prepared a list of such erring Non
Government Organisations (NGOs) that having gathered foreign aide disappeared from
the scene. “Of the 23 such organizations that we had randomly selected from a
list of 108 in the city, 11 did not exist on the address given by them,” said
additional district magistrate (executive) NP Singh. That’s almost 50 per cent.
“We would now be writing to the Union Home Ministry to blacklist these
outfits to prevent them from receiving any foreign aid in future,” said the
ADM. According to Singh, they were provided a list of 108 city NGOs, who had
received foreign contributions during 2002-03 from the Union Home Ministry,
which had sought a report from them on the activities of these organizations as
well as the end-utilisation of funds.
Additional city magistrate (V) Anil Kumar Singh was subsequently, put on
the job to verify the antecedents of the agencies in his areas that had
received money from abroad. Of the 23 such odd NGOs that were selected for
random survey, the ACM discovered that 11 had simply vanished from the scene.
They included ‘Nalanda’ in Aliganj, Society for Aid and Development in Indira
Nagar, The National Society for Blinds, Indira Nagar, Thomas Educational
Christian Society, Vikas Nagar, Arthik Vikas Evam Jan Kalyan Sansthan C-736
Indira Nagar, Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Science,
Vikram Khand, Gomti Nagar.
“Then there were a couple of other agencies like Assemblies of God
Mission and Catholic Diocese of Lucknow, which were untraceable, as no address
was provided in the list sent to us by the authorities,” said an administration
official. Here it is pertinent to mention that under Foreign Contribution
(Regulation) Act of 1976 (FCRA) any Indian organisation or individual who seeks
to receive foreign contributions has to obtain a clearance from the Ministry of
“While it would be wrong to tar all the NGOs with the same brush, it is
also an accepted fact that a large number of these outfits that claim to be
working in the cultural, social, educational, health and religious sectors
divert funds or misuse them for personal gains,” said ADM Singh.
The irony, however, is that there is no proper audit-mechanism to keep a
check on how the money is being spent, he added. He said it was because of this
loophole in the law, several organizations got away without maintaining proper
records or accounts of the funds received by them, said Singh. Indeed, the
Centre, had mooted a Bill on foreign contributions in 2005 to give more teeth
to the authorities to rein in erring NGOs. But it is yet to be cleared by the
Quota in allotment of LDA plots too!
Updated: Jun 06, 2006 00:00 IST
IF YOU thought that
the quota applied only to jobs and higher educational institutions, think
again. There is a reservation in the allotment of plots too!
More than 1,000
application forms were sold by the LDA on the very first day of the launch of
its Vibhor and Vinayak Khand Housing Scheme in Gomti Nagar on Monday. And you
can bet that prior to obtaining the registration form majority of these
aspirants, who had lined up at the LDA counters, would have hardly been aware
of the fact that 66 per cent of the plots in the scheme were already reserved.
The odds against
the general aspirants were raised further when the Central Government enacted a
policy for allowing 10 per cent reservation to senior citizens in all such
disposal/allotment of properties. Apart from general category, this quota said
the Union Government’s circular would also apply to the reservation already
specified under different sub-sects and castes. In effect, it implied quota
within the prescribed quota and more.
recipients’ share (see box) under the quota stipulation has been in force since
1999, its impact by those not covered under it is being felt only now. Reason:
There has been a blanket ban on all direct allotments ever since the
controversy over Vipul Khand plot allotments broke out and a PIL subsequently
filed in the matter is still before the Supreme Court. “This is grossly
unjustified. When the Apex court has ruled that reservation in any institution,
organization or form should not exceed more than 50 per cent, then why are we
being subjected to this unfair treatment,” said Nizamuddin Alam, a resident of
Nishatganj, as he waited for his turn in the queue at the LDA counter in Gomti
So, how is the
balance tilted in the favour of the quota brigade and what are the chances of
non-quota aspirants when the lots for over 1,200 plots in these schemes are
finally cast. Lets see. “Of the 1,200 plots only 371 plots would be available
for General Category for those below 60 years of age,” said an LDA official.
“What is more,
SC/ST and OBCs get two chances to try their luck under the current arrangement.
Once under the prescribed category and thereafter their names are also included
in the lottery draw held for the general category. So it would be fat chance
for me to procure a property” rues Anil Kumar, a resident of Krishna Nagar, who
is vying for a plot third time round.
Lucknow a real estate hot spot for investors
MTariq Khan and
Updated: Jun 13, 2006 01:22 IST
LUCKNOW, of late,
seems to have become a hot real estate destination. The property boom is
drawing not only big private developers/colonizers but also individuals from
New Delhi. Meerut, Allahabad, Kanpur, Bareilly and Gorakhpur, who are vying to
own a piece of plot in the State capital.
No wonder the cash
registers at the LDA have been continuously ringing ever since it announced the
launch of its housing scheme in Gomti Nagar Extension on June 5. The initial
response has even taken the LDA officials by surprise. The development agency
has sold 8,611 forms for its Vibhor and Vinayak Khand scheme in just about a
And those queuing
up before the booking counters are not all Lucknowites. In fact, in some
places, banks authorised by the LDA to sell its registration forms are getting
a better response in New Delhi and other cities than those opened in the city.
“The Punjab National Bank, for instance, has already sold 600 forms in the
country’s capital followed by 300 in Kanpur, 80 in Bareilly, 75 in Allahabad
and 60 in Gorakhpur,” said an LDA official. The figure is expected to multiply
several times over considering that the last date for applying under the
housing scheme is July 5. “We had got only 13,000 registration forms printed.
At this rate, we will have to place a fresh order very soon,” said another LDA
“The trend, as far
as individual applicants are concerned, began a couple of months ago,” says LDA
vice chairman BB Singh adding, the civic agency for the first time received
1,742 applications for a plot from New Delhi for its Vyom Khand scheme. Singh,
however, maintains that there has never been a dull moment throughout the year
and LDA plots have been selling like hot cakes. “At a time when there was a
property slump in other development authorities, LDA was the only agency in the
entire State to have developed and allotted over 2,500 new plots in a year,” he
Market analysts say
that real estate prices in Lucknow started spiralling when a flood of
Delhi-based builders mainly Omaxe Constructions, Parasvnath Builders, Plumeria,
Rohtas, Unitech and Ansal Housing announced plans to develop prime properties
in the city during August 2005.
From January 2004
to August 2005, the average prices both for residential and commercial
properties in Lucknow were stagnant at around 15 per cent. During the past 11
months, the average property prices of plots for residential property have shot
up by 20 per cent while the prices of plots for commercial properties in
Lucknow’s upmarket Gomti Nagar have gone up by nearly 45 per cent, says Manish
Khemka of “Investmania”, a brokerage house in the city. As regards the
profile of buyers who are interested in the upcoming properties in Lucknow,
about 40 per cent are speculators, investors (30 per cent) and real buyers (30
Khemka says the
recent stock market crash has had no impact on the spiralling property prices
in Lucknow as the city’s speculators are betting on property prices which are
likely to harden up further in the next two years. As regards the future,
Lucknow’s real estate market would witness an unholy price war as smaller
builders have also started scouting for prime land in the city’s outskirts.
Cars for sahibs, taxis for us!
Updated: Sep 27, 2006 00:13 IST
IT PAYS to keep
one’s bosses in good humour. Nobody knows this better than the LDA, which
despite being under no obligation to do so, has gone all out to take care of
their commuting needs by providing them each with a spanking new car from its fleet.
And you thought the
civic agency was mandated to take care of city’s development and housing need
only! From secretary to Chief Minister, those enjoying LDA’s hospitality
include half-a-dozen senior housing department officials right down to the level
of an under secretary. While the senior officers have been provided with more
comfortable ambassadors, those at the lower rung, say joint secretaries, have
been given a Gypsy at the department’s expense.
Some of these
vehicles, which have been pressed into the services of the ‘burra shahib’
contain following registration numbers: ambassador UP 32 2862 with secretary to
CM, another one with UP 32 AY 5515 for secretary housing and UP 32 AU 0101 also
an ambassador for special secretary housing.
Who cares for the
rules when the ‘courtesy’ is also being extended to a special secretary in the
law department? An ambassador (UP 32 J 6000) has been placed at the
service of a special secretary in the law department. Another vehicle has been
posted at the disposal of Commissioner Lucknow Division as he also happens to
be the chairman of the LDA.
therefore despite having a fleet of 50-60 four-wheelers, the LDA is finding
itself short of meeting the commuting needs of its own officers. To play fair,
it has hired air-conditioned taxis even though some of them are not entitled to
the privilege under government rules.
sources, the LDA has hired 12 such taxis on a monthly rental of Rs 22,000 each.
“Government rules permit use of vehicle for only those officers who are in the
pay-scale of Rs 12,500. Going strictly by this only four official in LDA
namely, the vice chairman, the secretary, additional secretary and the finance
controller are entitled for official vehicle,” informed a senior LDA official.
He, however, said
that though executive engineers were under the pay scale of Rs 10,000, yet they
were allotted vehicles by the VC to make them discharge their field duties more
effectively and efficiently. But leave alone executive engineers, at present
air-conditioned vehicles have been provided to assistant engineers, who have
been made in-charge of their zones despite a ban on any such arrangement by the
State Government, he pointed out.
Fast track to ‘dearer’ run
Updated: Nov 20, 2006 00:26 IST
With the completion
of the 22-kilometre stretch of the high-speed elevated expressway linking
Faizabad Road to Kanpur Road, Lucknow too would figure on the fast track. But
those seeking to indulge in the need for speed by using this access-control
highway may have to shell out a fee by way of toll tax.
“If everything goes
per plan, we should be able to complete work on the project by March 2007,”
says manager (technical) CM Dwivedi of the National Highway Authorities of India
(NHAI). Dwivedi has a reason to be apprehensive.
Reason. The project
is already behind schedule by almost two years thanks to the nagging land
acquisition related problems with the LDA/villagers and construction of three
railways over bridges along the route. “We recently had a meeting with
the Commissioner Railways Safety (CRS) in this connection and have got the
go-ahead for two out of the three RoBs,” he said.
Work on the
construction of this Lucknow bypass, which is a small segment of the East-West corridor
of the prestigious Golden Quadrilateral project of the Centre, began on August
30, 2001. To be built at an estimated cost of Rs 158.80 crore, the stipulated
completion deadline of this 22.856-kilometer highway was August 29, 2004.
Trouble began when villagers along the route stalled construction work
demanding they be given adequate underpasses to enable them to go about their
daily chores. As if this was not enough of a problem, the LDA too pitched in
demanding that it be paid for the land acquired for the project.
The initial idea
was that the State Government would provide land needed for the purpose
free-of-cost as part of the state component to facilitate the project. But all
the issues have finally been resolved. While the villagers have been granted
requisite underpasses, the LDA has been paid a hefty amount against land
acquisition cost. Once it is completed, the expressway linking Faizabad Road to
Sultanpur, Rae Bareli and Kanpur Road, according to NHAI officials, would
provide an option to travelers on this route to cut down on travel time.
Maya pet plan in RTI line of fire
M. Tariq Khan,
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Updated: Nov 16, 2007 01:56 IST
A Right To
Information application over a high-profile project has put the UP government
and the state chief information commissioner (CIC) on collision course.
What has annoyed
the CIC is the denial of information about Chief Minister Mayawati’s pet Ambedkar
Smarak project in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar despite a panel directive.
(retired) M.A. Khan has threatened to hand over the matter to the CBI if the
state refused to comply with his order to provide information on the
He issued a notice
to Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh on Thursday to personally appear
before the commission on December 12 to explain why information sought by RTI
applicant Shailendra Singh was not provided to him.
Development Authority) public information officer says the monument being built
is akin to the Taj Mahal. Would there be two Taj Mahals now? To which one would
the tourists go first, the one at Lucknow or the one at Agra,” he asked.
P.K. Mishra, who was to appear before the commission on Thursday, moved an
application seeking exemption from personal appearance. His counsel claimed
Mishra had no say in government matters. The LDA, which is the nodal agency for
developing the Ambedkar Smarak project, gave the petitioner a four-page
response. But Singh has rubbished it, saying the information was cursory and an
attempt to hoodwink the commission.