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HPCA land row case: IAS officer questioned again by anti-corruption bureau

hpca © Getty Images
K K Pant also said to investigators that decision taken to demolish buildings was done as per the directions given by Prem Kumar Dhamal © Getty Images (Representational Photo)

Dharamsala: Jan 13, 2014

IAS officer K.K. Pant, currently on central deputation, was Monday questioned again by the Himachal Pradesh vigilance and anti-corruption bureau over the demolition of government buildings to build a cricket stadium, an official said.

This was the second time in less than a week that Pant, joint secretary in the defence ministry, was questioned. Pant — a senior state-cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer — was posted as deputy commissioner here when a decision was taken at a meeting, chaired by him in April 2008, to declare unsafe buildings of the state education department that comprised residential quarters of teachers.

The buildings were demolished for the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association‘s (HPCA) international cricket stadium.

“Pant was interrogated for over four hours for his role in ordering the government structures unsafe,” a senior official told IANS.

Official sources said Pant told the investigating agency that the decision to demolish the structures was taken on the directions of then chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

“The role of the then chief minister in directing government officials to get the land vacated to facilitate the HPCA is under investigation,” the official said. Pant was earlier summoned Jan 6.

Sources said the vigilance bureau was looking for evidence to include now Leader of Opposition Dhumal in the case against the HPCA and government officials for allegedly demolishing the buildings.

HPCA president Anurag Thakur, who is also Dhumal’s son, has alleged that cases against the HPCA are politically motivated.

Thakur is also a joint secretary in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). In another case registered by the vigilance bureau, the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government has been accused of wrongdoing in allotment of land, which according to revenue records was the common village land, to the sports association for constructing a residential complex for the players near the Dharamsala stadium.

The disputed land, three km from the picturesque international stadium, has been used by the HPCA to build a five-star residential complex called The Pavilion, which has 38 rooms, 32 huts and a high-tech gym.

The land was allotted when Dhumal was in power. In this case, two IAS officers — Deepak Sanan and R.S. Gupta — were charge-sheeted by the state government July 26 last year for allegedly allowing the change in the land use for building the HPCA complex.

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