Union minister-Chandigarh administrator fight hots up


Chandigarh : Lashing out at Chandigarh administrator S.F. Rodrigues, who is also the Punjab governor, union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal Friday accused him of playing into the hands of private land developers and levelling false allegations.

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“I reject the false and mendacious allegations levelled against me by Rodrigues as the ravings and rantings of a frustrated person, who at the end of his five-year term finds himself exposed and discredited. He is now traumatised and resorting to mudslinging,” said Bansal.

Bansdal, who is the MP from Chandigarh and the union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources, was speaking to media persons at his residence here.

Three days ago, Rodrigues accused Bansal and union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni of gunning for him as he refused to toe their line in the controversial allotment of land to the private Delhi Public School (DPS).

Rodrigues’ tenure as Chandigarh’s administrator has been mired in controversy, especially over multi-million land deals with private builders.

“The deals were ostensibly carried out as models of public-private partnership (PPP). But instead of using private resources for public good, public resources were used for private developers’ gains,” Bansal said.

Bansal said the administrator “suffered from megalomania and always tried to be a bully”.

Rodrigues, a former Indian Army chief, will complete his five-year tenure as the governor of Punjab next month.

Defending the DPS land allotment, Bansal said: “In vain desperation to salvage his image, Rodrigues is now resorting to falsehoods and dragging in the judiciary as well.”

“He tried to misguide and misinform the chief justice about the issue of allotment of land to the DPS Society here. In the last five years, I had written around 60 letters to the administrator on different matters concerning the city and its residents. Normally I did not get a reply. But if anytime I did, it was ‘I will do what I feel is right’.”

Bansal said Chandigarh has been treated like personal property and extensive damage has been done to its fabric. For five years, good governance has been the casualty, the administration has been a theatre of the absurd, he pointed out.

“Rodrigues dismisses the MHA (ministry of home affairs) audit and questions its power. The administration had been acquiring agricultural land in Chandigarh at grossly inadequate prices of Rs. 12 lakh to Rs.27 lakh per acre, while less advantageous land in adjoining Mohali district in Punjab were acquired at Rs.1.5 crore per acre,” said Bansal.

The home ministry audit has reportedly highlighted gross anomalies in the procedure followed while pursuing the projects.

“He does not want the local MP to take up the cause of the city and the seniormost bureaucrat is a ‘mole’ by his standards since he questioned his (Rodrigues’) arbitrary deeds and pointed tremendous loss that its exchequer will suffer in one land policy.”

“He relishes working with sycophants who pay total obeisance to him and whom he can treat as a doormat,” said Bansal.

Rodrigues has been at loggerheads with Chandigarh’s seniormost bureaucrat, Pardip Mehra, over the controversial land deals. Mehra had openly objected to several land deals for allegedly being undervalued.

Chandigarh, as a union territory, is centrally controlled by the home ministry. The city is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.

The local unit of the Congress has been at odds with Rodrigues and highly critical of his style of working. Party leaders have been openly alleging that the administration and Rodrigues are involved in fraudulent land deals worth about Rs.30,000 crore.