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CBI case against leading Chandigarh school


Chandigarh : The management of a highly sought after private school in Chandigarh is in trouble. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has slapped a case against it for alleged irregularities, sources said Tuesday.

A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against the directors of the Durga Das Foundation (DDF), which runs the Strawberry Fields World School in Sector 26), and also against unnamed officials of the Chandigarh administration.

CBI sources said DDF director and socialite Atul Khanna and his father Brij Khanna have been booked in the case. They have been accused of conniving with senior officials of the administration to get more land allotted than sanctioned.

The Khannas are an influential family here and their DDF also runs the Strawberry Fields Kindergarten School in Sector 24.

CBI had Monday raided the premises of both schools as also Khanna family residence in upscale Sector 9 here.

The Strawberry Kindergarten School has been running for over two decades from a campus allotted to Bharat Sewak Samaj, an organization for social and cultural activities.

CBI, which registered a preliminary enquiry against the school and its directors in January and also raided the premises in March, has said the school authorities, in connivance with Chandigarh administration officials, had transferred the control of the Sector 24 campus to the DDF.

“The kindergarten school campus was never allotted by the administration as a school site, nor was its change of land use ever allowed to convert it into a school. The school has been running there illegally for over 20 years,” an officer of the city’s Estate Office told IANS on condition of anonymity.

CBI says the Sector 24 premises have been “misused” as they were not being used for the original purpose for which the land was allotted in 1967.

DDF was later allotted more land in the education zone of Sector 26 in 2003.

CBI sources also say the allotment rates were changed by certain officers from Rs.18,000 per square yard to just Rs.900 per square yard by showing that the floor-area-ratio (FAR) had been reduced from 0.50 to 0.25. This caused a loss of over Rs.2 crore to the public exchequer in 2003, the sources said.

CBI officials also seized documents from the school offices and the Khanna home.