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Anandale ground in throes of controversies again

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annadaleHimachal Pradesh government  may have settled the Annandale ground land  row with the Indian Army but the bombshells may not let the controversy die down easily. The state’s Congress government though had  decided that the ground will continue to be in the possession of Indian Army but has simultaneously decided to probe the alleged dubious land deals which took place soon after the previous BJP government had decided to get the possession back from Indian Army in

As much as 22 cases of dubious land deals were unearthed by the state’s Vigilance and Anit Corruption Bureau .However the probe did not find anything  incriminating  in 17 land deals which were striked by the residents of Himachal Pradesh.

” Out of 22 land deals only five were found to be dubious which are being probed further. The lands were purchased by the residents  who could have benefited in case the ground had come under the possession of the state government.  ,” a top level state government official said.

Sources said that the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau is also probing a particular piece of land measuring 3640.84 square meter which is situated in the middle of the Anandale ground ( No 290,388  located Khasra No 200 and 201. This piece of land is owned by some residents of Patilala ( Punjab). Sources said some influential people were trying to buy this land but the deed could not be registered as the land is under the possession of Indian Army. The Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau will find out the whereabouts and details of the buyers.

Sources said the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau is also probing four dubious land deals which took place in 2012. Sources said the market value of  these plots , measuring 30 Bighas in all, is six times higher than the amount shown on the papers.

“The status of these plots have been changed fraudulantely from forest land to grassland to pave the way for the construction which otherwise would not have been possible without changing the status of the land. These plots measure around 30 bighas and the market value of  this land is more than 30 crores. The registration deeds show the land have been purchased by just  paying 50 lac rupees. How it is possible ? We demand that this land should be vested with the government,” Tikender Singh Panwar, Deputy Mayor, Shimla Municipal Corporation said .

Sprawling over an area of 121 Bighas , Annandale (playground and race-course) ground rests on a small patch of table-land and is located in a deep wide valley in the suburban village of Kaithu,Shimla west.

The face off between the Army and the then BJP state government had taken an ugly turn on April 14 ,2012 Army had levelled land grab charges against the then chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal .Dhumal had favoured Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) decision to construct a cricket stadium at the Anandale ground .However , the Army did not handover the ground to the state government which faced bitter criticism not only from the opposition but also from the Army and from a faction of his own party.

After waging a war of words with the Army over the ground controversy,the then Himachal government had filed an arbitration case with the Divisional Commissioner, Shimla in April last year.

The state government had maintained that the Army is illegally occupying the Annandale ground as the lease basis of which the ground was handed over to the Army,expired in 1982. The land of Annandale ground was owned by the Gymkhana Club and not by the Army. In 1955  a lease agreement was signed between the then Punjab government and and the Ministry of Defence and the ground was leased out on a rupee one per annum amount for a period of  ten years.

However the Congress chief minister , Virbhadra Singh on January 29 this year had put a lid on the controversy by ordering  withdrawal of the ongoing arbitration proceedings and has said that the Anandale ground will continue to be under the possession of  Indian Army .

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