Why was land worth Rs 147 cr sold off for


February 17, 2006

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Surat, February 14: A huge piece of land measuring 2.06 lakh square metres sold for just Rs 3 crore when its market value is Rs 147 crore? The issue has become a bone of contention among Parsis in the city, with one group alleging that the huge difference in the value of the land could have been utilised for the community’s welfare.

The land in question is at Vanta village in Chhoryasi taluka and belongs to Surat Parsi Panchayat. According to Parsee Zoroastrian Men’s Assembly of Surat (PZMAS), the group that has raised the issue, the land was sold to builders of Ambaji Corporation two years back.

”Panchayat members are hand-in-glove with the builders for having sold off the land at a very low rate. They have sold the land measuring 2.06 lakh square metres, the market value of which is Rs 147 crore, for a meagre Rs 3 crore to the builders of Ambaji corporation,” alleged PZMAS president Yazdi Darbsha Ichhaporia. He was addressing a news conference in the city on Monday.According to Ichhaporia, the land at Vanta village is owned by P M Singanporewala Parsi Girls School which is managed by the panchyat. On December 11, 2003, the board of trustees of the panchayat had signed an MoU with Ambaji Corporation for selling off the land for Rs 3 crore, he said.Ichhaporia alleged the board of trustees did not invite open tenders and thereby favoured Ambaji Corporation. ”The trustees also did not seek permission from the charity commissioner, which is mandatory as the land belongs to a trust,” he said.

Marizad Sam Kapadia, a PZMAS member, said that the land could have been sold at the market rate so that the money raised could have benefitted the entire community. ”We have no objection with the panchayat selling the land, but the way they did it is not acceptable,” Kapadia said, adding that the money would have helped the 4,000-odd Parsis in the city.

Another PZMAS member, Aadil Dinshaw Daruwala, said a group of builders were coming up with a farmhouse project called ‘Silent Zone Farmhouse’ at Vanta village and for that they were grabbing lakhs of square metres of land. ”These builders are, in fact, selling off the developed plots at the market rate of Rs 6,000 per square yard,” he said.

PZMAS members also submitted memorandums to the district collector, commissioner of police and the chief administrative officer of the Surat Urban Development Authority (SUDA), demanding action against the builders trying to grab prime lands of the Parsi community. They said they had also taken up the issue with the charity commissioner.

But Surat Parsi Panchayat says it has not sold off land. ”We have not sold the land as of now. The matter is pending in the charity commissioner’s office,” said Darayas Master, panchayat president.

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