Tuesday, August 16, 2011

News Article: DLF to set up golf course on panchayat land

State leases out 230 acres
Firm also to develop water park

Chitleen K Sethi (Tribune News Service) 
Chandigarh, May 17:  In an unprecedented move, the Punjab government has approved the use of over 230 acres of panchayat land for the development of a golf course by DLF as part of its super mega project coming up in Mullanpur, Mohali.

The state government has promised the company to “help” it get this land on lease from the panchayats of at least 11 villages in which this land falls.

This is for the first time in the state that the government has offered panchayat land to a private builder.

The land for the proposed project is being used by the department of irrigation for a bandh which has been constructed to control the Patiala-ki-Rao choe.

The department has also “very kindly” offered to allow DLF to use its land for the development of a water park for adventure sports. The department will, however, share the revenue earned from the water park by the company.

These decisions were taken during an empowered committee meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on February 23. Water park and a golf course are expected to help the company sell its residential and industrial component. Several eyebrows have been raised regarding the “offer” made by the government. According to sources, the minutes of the meeting were changed twice and finally released only recently.

In the minutes, it has been made clear to the company that it will not own the land, but use it for the specific purpose. The company will pay the lease amount to the panchayats and the government will “coordinate” between the company and the panchayats to complete the process.

“We are not buying this land. We are only developing it for the panchayats at our cost. We do not intend to use it commercially. A golf course will only be a part of a larger green belt and be open to the public at large,” explained Rahul Mehta, executive director, DLF North India.

Interestingly, while empowered committee members seemed to have readily given the nod for such offer, the department of rural development and panchayats is in a fix over how to carry it through.

The Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Rules 1964 clearly lay down that the panchayat land can be leased out for 33 years, but only for industrial, commercial, educational and professional purposes. “We are not sure which category does a golf course fall in” said Jagpal Singh Sandhu, principal secretary, department of rural development and panchayats.

The 230 acres of land fall within the area specified as “green belt” in the Mullapur masterplan and cannot be put to any use mentioned in the rulebook.

DLF intends to set up a super mega mixed-use integrated industrial park on 1,250 acres of land in Milak, Mastgarh, Dhanauran, Togan, Tira, Bansenir, Sangalan, Ratwara, Pantpur, Devinagar and Chaharmajra villages within the Mullanpur local planning area with an investment of Rs 2,700 crore.

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