Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rajasekhar Reddy Government looted public money and gifted to rich: CAG report

HYDERABAD 29 March: Endorsing the criticism that the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC), the nodal agency for creation of infrastructure in the state, has been unduly benefiting certain units by allotting land at less than normal prices, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has charged the corporation with unduly favouring certain allottees and causing a loss of Rs 304.52 crore to the state exchequer. According to the CAG report which was tabled in the Assembly on Friday, most of the beneficiaries were from the IT sector.

The 11 cases that were pointed out by the report include industry majors like Microsoft, Amazon and Kanbay apart from IT infrastructure developers including Indu Tech Zone, Brahmani Infra Tech, Stargage Properties and Divyasree Holdings.

The list also includes Ananth Technologies, Hyderabad Gems SEZ, Visual Soft and Tourism Department of Andhra Pradesh. Apart from these 11 companies, the report has also found deviations in allotment to Varun Motors, Sri Kiran Technologies, Info Vision, Analogic and Padma Power Loom.

The report for the year ended March 2007 has pointed out the way the corporation kept aside certain procedures for price fixation and land allotment in order to benefit the allottees.

As per the norms for allotment of land to IT companies and price fixation, the APIIC went by the recommendations of the Consultative Committee on IT Industries (CCITI) constituted by the government for administering and ensuring growth of IT sector in the state. However, the price of the land to be allotted is fixed based on the recommendations of the price fixation committee (PFC).

However, CAG, said the land to about 11 companies during the year under review was allotted at lower rates in comparison to the rates fixed by the PFC. "Thus charging of rates below the rates fixed by the PFC was irregular and clearly an undue favour to the allottees resulting in loss of Rs 304.52 crore," the report said.

Indu Tech Zone, the report said, derived a benefit of Rs 71.40 crore by getting the land allotted at lower rates.

Similar benefit was passed on to Brahmani Infra Tech and Stargage too. All these three infrastructure companies were allotted 250 acres each at Hardware Park, Hyderabad at Rs 20 lakh an acre while the applicable rate was Rs 48.56 lakh.

In the case of Microsoft too, the CAG pointed out that the differential in the rate applicable and rate charged benefited the company to the tune of Rs 45.60 crore. Microsoft India (R&D) was allotted land in four parcels - 12.72 acres, 11.48 acres, 5.5 acres and 7.05 acres - at Manikonda. In the case of the first parcel, while the rate applicable was Rs 60 lakh an acre, the IT major was asked to pay Rs 29 lakh an acre. In the remaining three parcels, against the applicable rate of Rs 2.02 crore per acre, the company was allotted land for Rs 29 lakh an acre.

Similar deviation was also found in the case of Amazon where the company was allotted 10.56 acres at hardware park for Rs 60 lakh an acre as against the applicable rate of Rs 2.02 crore. This transaction, according to the report, resulted in a loss of Rs 3.94 crore.
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