One for my officer, one for my boy…

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LAND SCAM 3.0

Land and property are coveted assets. So why are chief ministers allowed to give these away as favours? Jeemon Jacob tracks how Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has been using his quotas

IN NOVEMBER, Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa almost lost his job, due to the uproar over preferential allotment of land and property to his sons and close associates. He has since cancelled the allotments, asked his children to move out of his official residence, and retained his seat through some deft political manoeuvring and muscle-flexing. At the height of the campaign against him, as political opponents paraded on apparent moral high ground, TEHELKA published details of plots similarly allotted by previous Karnataka chief ministers, both of the Congress and the JD(S), to relatives, servants, drivers, maids and partymen (LAND SCAM 2.0, 4 December). The purpose was not to make Yeddyurappa’s wrongdoings look less shocking, but to show that the problem was endemic and needed rooting out. The right given to chief ministers to hand out public land to a favoured few — relatives, bureaucrats, judges, police officers and others — smacks of nepotism and arbitrary feudal power structures that should have no place in a modern democracy. (Though there is no immediate proof of this, some of these allotments could also be benamitransactions, in which the ultimate ownership remains with the distributor of the largesse, camouflaged by a stack of fake documents.)

This power — euphemistically called “discretionary quota” — has even been used to favour allegedly corrupt army officers like General Deepak Kapoor (AT EASE WITH GREASE, TEHELKA, 20 November), who was given a large 500 sq yd plot in Haryana by the Hooda government, which then faced the embarrassment of refusing him permission to sell it off before five years had elapsed, as per rules. The plot was given to him by the government as preferential allotment in recognition for his ‘outstanding achievement’.

This week, continuing its campaign against out-of-turn allotments of land and property, TEHELKA has an exposé on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. The Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) which commands a large land bank, has a government discretionary quota (GDQ) under which 15 percent of all allotments can be recommended by the CM. Eligibility for allotment under GDQ is as follows: single/deserted women; widows; social workers; physically handicapped persons; defence personnel; ex-servicemen; eminent persons in the field of science, arts, literature, economics, public administration and sports; freedom fighters; government servants with unblemished service records; employees of PSUs, central government undertakings and nationalised banks; PF institutions; journalists; university staff; and employees of local bodies and municipalities.

While some of these categories sound kosher, most of them raise a fundamental question: why should the government have the power to give coveted land to select employees and journalists over others? The only rationale could be proximity — which is an untenable reason for being the beneficiary of political favours, often worth several crores.

Setting this aside, even within the legal ambit of the GDQ, TEHELKA’s investigation shows that many of the allotments in Karunanidhi’s tenure have violated the rule book. Many bureaucrats and their relatives have been given plots or flats under the category of “social worker”. Some of these last did social work when they were in college; many of them claim to be volunteers in such routine activity as helping in blood donation or eye camps. Many have issued certificates to themselves; some have acquired letters from the Lions and Rotary Clubs with vague endorsements. In other violations, the rules say that no one who has any other land or property in Tamil Nadu or any other capital city, in either their own or spouse or minor children’s name, can apply for GDQ allotments. TEHELKA found this is routinely violated.

Many of the allottees issued certificates to themselves, while some got letters from Lions and Rotary Clubs

The other brazen violation lies in the claim of “unblemished” service records as a qualification for allotment. When RTI activist V Gopalakrishnan sought a list of such bureaucrats, Additional Secretary S Solomon Raj said, “As no unblemished government servant certificates are issued, the question of furnishing a list of names does not arise.” The additional secretary also clarified that the home department didn’t have such a list. This is the phantom category under which many public servants like Jaffar Sait, 1986 batch IPS officer, now Inspector General of Police–Intelligence, got large allotments of land in prime locations. Why them more than hundreds of others? That’s a democratic question the chief minister will have to answer.

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Legal Largesse

R Bhanumathi

R Bhanumathi
Serving Judge, Madras High Court

FLAT NOS: MIG 249-250, SHOLINGANALLUR PHASE III, CHENNAI
DATE: 30 MARCH 2008
SIZE: 120 SQ M & 139 SQ M
PRICE: Rs. 27.55 LAKH & Rs. 30.05 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA

VIOLATIONS
The judge was allotted two adjoining plots on the same day (30 March 2008). According to her Disclosure of Assets statement of 2009, the judge already had a house in her name, and another plot in her husband, advocate K Ganesan’s name. The house, in the Uthangarai area of Krishnagiri district, was constructed in 1985 on a plot purchased in 1982. The plot of land is located in Saidapet and was purchased in 1993. She however admits in her declaration that she owns two plots, which she purchased from the TN Housing Board in 2008. But this allocation was made under the General Category. Since judges do not come under any of the quota categories, the government’s way of allotting land to them differs from the rest. Judges are informed about the availability of land. And when they apply for the same, the government facilitates the allotment.

K Raviraja

K Raviraja Pandian
Retired Justice, Madras High Court

PLOT NO: B2/5, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 11 NOVEMBER 2009
SIZE: 3,117 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 68.54 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.2 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
Close relative of DMK supremo Karunanidhi and the Chairman of the School Fee Determination Committee. Little wonder then he was also the recipient of special favours while he was still a serving judge. At the time of the allotment, the judge owned a 50 percent share in an ancestral house at Thiruveezhimizhalai village. The judge had also sold a property he owned at Pazhavatthankattali village near Kumbakonam. The land was purchased in 1991, a house was constructed on it in 1992 and sold in 2009. He had also sold the landed property of his wife in 2009.

V Ambika
Advocate

PLOT NO: A8, KADAPERY, MADHURANTHAGAM
DATE: 16 FEBRUARY 2008
SIZE: 2,285 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 4.54 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 15 LAKH

VIOLATIONS
The advocate owned landed property in more than one location when she was allotted the plot — one vacant house site in Karanai Puducheri village and another in Katrampakkam village, in Kancheepuram district. Her husband, Justice M Satyanarayanan of the Madras High Court, in his Disclosure of Assets, stated that he owns a repurchased MIG flat constructed in 1969 at Indra Nagar in Chennai. Ambika was allotted land under the GDQ.

Bureaucratic Bonanza

Jaffar Sait

Jaffar Sait
IGP-Intelligence

FLAT NOS: 540, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR
DATE: 23 APRIL 2008
SIZE: 4,756 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.26 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 6 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
Allotted under ‘unblemished’ government servant category. On 6 June 2008, the government transferred the ownership of the plot to his daughter Jennifer Jaffar, then a student. Jennifer made two payments of Rs. 46.03 lakh and Rs.1.73 lakh towards cost of the plot. In February 2009, she paid another Rs.60 lakh. After having paid Rs.1.07 crore, the ownership of plot was transferred to her mother Parvin Jaffar. Interestingly, Parvin also made the payment all over again. In October 2009, she paid Rs. 50.64 lakh and then again in November 2009, another Rs. 25 lakh was deposited. A further payment of Rs. 51.5 lakh in the same month was made. Income tax officials feel the Sait family made the double payment to avoid an IT investigation on Jennifer, who would not have been able to show any source of income. The Tamil Nadu Housing Board then returned the original amount paid by Jennifer. Now, Parvin in collaboration with Durga Sankar, son of an IAS officer, has commissioned a builder to construct a multi-storey complex in which 12 flats have already been built. Each flat is expected to fetch an estimated 1 crore. So, by paying Rs. 1.26 crore in 2009, the IGP’s family made a profit of more than Rs. 5.7 crore.

G Prakash
Joint Secretary, Industries

PLOT NO: S6, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 6 MAY 2008
SIZE: 3,829 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 76.58 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 4 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
The former district collector of Tirunelveli issued himself a certificate for unblemished government service.

CK Gariyali

CK Gariyali
Retired IAS, Secretary to Governor at the time of allotment

FLAT NOS: S4, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 7 MAY 2008
SIZE: 6,023 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.20 CRORE. PAYMENT WAS MADE IN 33 INSTALMENTS FROM 18 JULY 2008 TO 6 MARCH 2009
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 6.8 CRORE (APPROX)

VIOLATIONS
Her husband Dr S Rajakumar has a house in Chennai.

Sumathi Ravichandran
Former Regional Passport Officer, Chennai, and close relative of DMK minister K Anbazhagan

PLOT NO: 1050 HIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 28 MARCH 2008
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 59.15 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 1 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
Her husband Dr S Ravichandran owns a plot. Following an RTI probe, the TNHB issued a show-cause notice and placed the allotment under suspension.

Political Perks

L Ganeshan

L Ganeshan
Former MP, who left Vaiko to join DMK

FLAT NOS: 1052 HIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 27 MARCH 2008
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 79.86 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA

VIOLATIONS
Ganeshan is a trade union leader with the DMK and is close to Karunanidhi. He owns property in his as well as his wife’s name.

Brinda Nedunchezhiyan
Wife of late Chezhiyan and daughter-in-law of Agriculture Minister Veerapandi Arumugam

PLOT NO: HIG B 3/14, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 13 MARCH 2008
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 9.82 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 45-50 LAKH

VIOLATIONS
Allotted flat under Social worker category. The tehsildar of Salem issued her a certificate though he is not empowered to. The certificate says she “is a well-known social worker involved in social welfare activities such as president of Poolavari village panchayat, head of parent-teachers association, participating in educational programmes of many schools”.

S Rajalakshmi
Wife of R Sakkarapani, MLA and DMK chief whip

PLOT NO: 1047, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 9 MARCH 2008
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 79.86 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.5 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
She was allotted the flat under the Social Worker category. The supporting document was a letter from a Rotary Club. The letter from PNK Venkatachalapathy, president of the Rotary Club of Oddachatram, dated 31 March 2008, states that “she is known to me as a social worker who is participating in social service activities of our Rotary Club at blood donation camps, free health checkup camps and other welfare activities. She has also been helping in providing several other basic amenities for the people surrounding the slum area for the past several years. I wish her every success to do more services to needy people in and around the area”.

D Yasodha

D Yasodha
Congress MLA, Kancheepuram Congress MLA, Kancheepuram

FLAT NOS: A5, HIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 19 DECEMBER 2008
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 59.56 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
A certificate from the Chennai Municipal Councillor stating she has been an active social worker for the past 40 years actively involved in helping the poor in the area.

Poochi Murugan
Member of a DMK trade union

PLOT NO: A 11, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 6 JUNE 2008
SIZE: 2,422 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 58.61 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 2.75 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
Though a member of a DMK trade union, he was allotted land under the Social Worker category. Has three plots in his name and one in his spouse’s name. He has not produced any supporting document about the social work he has done.

Bharati Thennarasu
Widow of Sivagangai politician Thennarasu

FLAT NOS: S7, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTN
DATE: 26 AUGUST 2008
SIZE: 3,879 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 79.13 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.75 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
She was allotted the plot under the Social Worker category. An RTI application revealed that she had not been engaged in any kind of social work that would make her eligible for this category.

P Moorthy

P Moorthy
Madurai MLA

FLAT NOS: E2/6, MIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 5 DECEMBER 2008
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 72.5 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 4 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
Allotted under the Social Worker category on a certificate issued by the Lions Club. Owns several plots in his and his wife’s name.

N Soorya
Daughter of Brinda Chezhiyan and grand-daughter of Agriculture Minister Veerapandi Arumugam

FLAT NOS: B3/13, HIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 3 JUNE 2008
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 8.99 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 45-50 LAKH

VIOLATIONS
Like her mother, the 20-year-old was given a certificate of social work and domicile by the tehsildar of Salem, stating that she “is a wellknown social worker who is involved in many social welfare activities, such as national social service, participating in eye camp, blood donation and giving education to poor students”. The certificate was issued on 27 February 2008, the same day her mother got one. Both got adjoining flats.

Kith and Kin

Deepa
Daughter of Devaraj M, Private Secretary to the Chief Minister

FLAT NOS: 543, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR (PLOT ADJOINING SAIT’S AND SHANKAR’S)
DATE: 23 MAY 2008
SIZE: 4,466 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.08 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA

VIOLATIONS
Allotted plot under the Social Worker category but there’s no evidence to back it. Constructing a three-storey building involving a cost beyond the family’s known sources of income. Her husband owns another property in his name. Her plot is adjacent to the plots of IGP-Intelligence Jaffar Sait and Durga Shankar, son of the CM’s secretary.

Naveenkumar
Son of P Muthuveeran, IAS, who was District Collector, Theni, and close to the Chief Minister

FLAT NOS: 541, HIG, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR
DATE: 27 JULY 2008
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 1.06 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA

VIOLATIONS
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category. He works in a software company in Chennai and submitted a salary slip of Rs. 20,000 per month at the time of allotment. Now, he is constructing a fourstorey structure on the plot.

J Naveen Ibrahim
Son of SI Jaffar Ali, IPS (retd)

FLAT NOS: AI HIG MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 31 MARCH 2009
SIZE: NA
PRICE: Rs. 64.95 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.25 CRORE

VIOLATIONS
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category. Certificate issued relates to 1983, when he was a student. The college principal says he actively participated in “many social activities conducted by us. He continues to evince interest in social service activities”. Curiously, the EMI of Rs. 74,000 is almost double his monthly salary.

Durga Sankar
Son of Rajamanikkam, IAS, Secretary to Chief Minister

FLAT NOS: 538, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR (PLOT ADJOINING SAIT’S AND SHANKAR’S)
DATE: 28 MARCH 2008
SIZE: 2,450 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.12 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA

VIOLATIONS
He is a businessman, but allotted the plot under the Social Worker category. He also submitted an affidavit that the plot would be used for residential purposes. But he violated the conditions and developed the property for commercial purposes.

The Others

M Ilamukil
IT Manager, DMK HQ, Chennai

VIOLATIONS
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category on a certificate issued by the Lions Club. The certificate states that he “is participating in social service activities of Lions Club at blood donation camp, free health camps for the past several years”.

Ilanthendral
Ilamukil’s sister

VIOLATIONS
Allotted HIG flat under the Social Worker category on the basis of a certificate issued by a panchayat, which is not valid.

N Kannabiran
Junior attendant at the Supreme Court

VIOLATIONS
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category. Kannabiran, a Delhi resident, was issued a salary certificate by the SC registrar for purchasing land in Tamil Nadu. He was allotted on the recommendation of his superior, who has close links with the DMK.

C Ganeshan and C Vinothan
PSOs, CM’s Security

VIOLATIONS
Allotted flats under the ‘unblemished’ government servants category. Documents reveal the Superintendent of Police, Security Branch, Chennai, issued vague conduct certificates after the duo were allotted the flats provisionally.

P Meena
W/O P Pandian, PSO, CM’s Security

VIOLATIONS
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category. She produced a letter from MS Velu of the Lions Club, who liberally issued certificates for sons and daughters of bureaucrats to help them avail of prime plots allotted by the TN Housing Board out of the government discretionary quota.

Photos: The HinduJeemon Jacob

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Reactions to Land Scam 3.0

D Yashoda, Congress MLA, Kancheepuram

“I have done a lot of work for Dalits throughout Tamil Nadu, especially in Sriperumbudur and Chennai. I have helped them in getting pattas for their land, recommending their names for loans from banks, distributing cycles to Dalits on the birthdays of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.”

Jaffar Sait, IPS, IG-Intelligence

“Government agencies have already probed the matter. I am being governed by the conduct rules, so I should not talk to you about the issue. It is advisable that you seek a response from the Tamil Nadu government. I would like to add that if any defamation or liability arises out of your article, necessary legal action would be taken.”

P Moorthy, Madurai MLA

“I don’t know much about the certificate, I think I got the plot because I’m an MLA. I have done a lot of work in uplifting the people in villages of my constituency. That amounts to social work. I don’t need a social work certificate from the Lions Club but my friends, partners and I took the certificate anyway. ”

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