Mihan-Land Scam-Indicted by CAG, R C Sinha now drags Vilasrao’s name in Satyam land deal
** Emboldened by inaction by Govt, Oppn, MADC now questions veracity of CAG report
STRANGE are the ways of babudom. While accepting bouquets they are on the forefront but the brickbats are promptly shifted to others. Adopting the same principle R C Sinha, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC), indicted by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for extending undue benefit of Rs 20.21 crore to Satyam Computer Services Limited by sale of land at lower rates, has now dragged the name of then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in controversial Satyam land deal. Emboldened by failure of opposition and State Government to take any action despite CAG strictures, the MADC in a sworn affidavit has questioned even the very basis of CAG report chiding MADC for allotting cheap land to Satyam.
The CAG report, tabled in the budget session of Maharashtra Assembly in April 2010, had blamed MADC bosses for causing massive loss to the State Government and indicted them for granting an "undue benefit" of Rs 20.21 crore to Satyam Computer Services Limited (SCSL). The "First come First serve" basis which attained notoriety in 2G spectrum scam, was also used by MADC while allotting land to Satyam only to invite stringent criticism from CAG.
The CAG has clearly observed that "The Company (MADC) had not formulated any policy for concessional allotment of land as an "early bird" incentive. Formulation of such a policy was necessary to ensure fairness and transparency in the Company’s sale of land policy." However, the MADC maintained that "Board of Directors of the MADC had taken a decision to allot land at a concessional rate to early birds/applicants."
Apparently to get over the CAG indictment, the MADC bosses have now dragged the name of then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh (who was ex-officio Chairman of MADC) to claim that allotment of land to Satyam was considered by Board of Directors on December 5, 2005. "In the said meeting 9 members of the Board of Directors of the MADC were present which included the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Chairman of MADC, Shri Vilasraoji D Deshmukh," the MADC claimed in its latest affidavit.
Technically, this may be correct. But in reality, Sinha has been the actual mover and shaker in all matters as regards MADC, which is a common knowledge and confirmed by MADC in its own affidavit.
The MADC affidavit narrated in detail efforts taken by R C Sinha to woo investors for MIHAN-SEZ but conveniently passed the buck to entire Board headed by then Chief Minister, obviously to get rid of CAG indictment to absolve Sinha from any direct responsibility.
The affidavit also gives a great detail about pains taken by Sinha to convince some of the leading IT industries like L&T Info City, Infosys, TCS etc and how land was offered to them at a very low price, but these companies refused to invest in Nagpur. "Satyam was also offered the land at Nagpur by the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the MADC. The officials of Satyam were not convinced with the rate offered to them as they were of the view that it was too high when compared with rates in other Tier II cities SEZs," the affidavit stated.
After hectic parleys and convincing Satyam that "the MADC is not selling only the land but is selling the infrastructure," the MADC pursued the matter with State Government and finally the land allotment to Satyam was considered by Board of Directors headed by ex-Officio Chairman and then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. "After due deliberation and consideration, it was unanimously decided at the said Board Meeting dated December 5, 2005 that M/s Satyam be allotted land admeasuring 100 acres on a concessional rate of Rs 18 lakh per acre," the MADC has claimed.
Due to spillway of Telhara tank the roads were realigned and re-demarcated and remaining residual strip of 28.06 acre was offered to Satyam at Rs 22.35 lakh per acre since "no other industry would be interested in the residual strip of 28.06 acres," the MADC had claimed by way of justification.
Unfortunately for MADC and its bosses, the CAG had already refused to accept this feeble justification and tersely observed "allotment of additional land to Satyam Computers without the approval of Board of Directors was not justifiable in the absence of a policy regarding concessioal allotments." The affidavit has now tried to discredit CAG’s observation by claiming approval to early bird offer by Board of Directors on a non-disclosed date.
Incidentally, Sinha was Chairman of Maytas Infra Limited (a sister concern of Satyam promoted by the now incarcerated Ramlinga Raju) and hence the matter became all the more serious for clash of interest and allotment of prime land to Satyam. Sinha remained non-Executive Director and Chairman of Maytas Infra Ltd till January 2009 and tendered resignation of directorship and chairmanship of the company after the Satyam scandal rocked the country and its founder Ramalingam Raju was arrested for the biggest corporate fraud.
Expressing total ignorance about alleged link between M/s Satyam and M/s Maytas, the MADC has now claimed "On December 5, 2005, M/s Satyam and M/s Maytas were distinct and different entities and no one, including R C Sinha, knew about the alleged link between M/s Satyam and M/s Maytas. The alleged link was disclosed for the first time somewhere around January 2009."