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Panel trashes graft charges against PM Modi

Gandhinagar: The Justice M B Shah Commission has found no substance in allegations of corruption, including in land allocation to Tata Nano project, levelled by the Congress against Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.
The Commission, whose report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Friday, looked into the allegations which mostly pertained to allotment of land for major industrial and infrastructure projects including nine cases related to Tata Nano plant, Adani Group’s Mundra Port and SEZ, and Larsen and Toubro. “Public interest, particularly for the state of Gujarat, was a paramount consideration for inviting Tata to establish Nano project and automotive hub in the state of Gujarat.The said policy decision was taken in conformity with the central government policy of establishing automotive industry,” the two-part report stated.
The report ran into more than 5,500 pages and has 22 volumes. Congress leaders, including Shaktisinh Gohil and Arjun Modhvaida, had submitted a memorandum to the then President in July 2011, listing 17 allegations of corruption against Modi who was at the helm in Gujarat.
Modi had set up the panel under retired Supreme Court judge M B Shah in August 2011 to enquire into 15 out of 17 allegations, as remaining two were sub-judice.
The report was tabled in the House in the wake of repeated demands made by the Congress during the ongoing Budget session. The Commission submitted to the government its first report in September 2012 on nine allegations related to the land allotments to various companies including Tata Nano in Sanand, Adani SEZ in Mundra and Larsan and Toubro in Hazira. The second report related to another six allegations was submitted to the government in November 2013.
The panel has probed thirteen out of fifteen allegations, stating that “the subject matter of rest two is either in high court or supreme court”.
As per the Assembly Secretariat, the state government provided only one copy of the report, which was kept in its library for everybody to view.
MLAs were not provided with the copy of reports. The commission has given separate reports on all the allegations, which form part of the overall report.
Broadly, in all nine cases of land allotment, the allegations of corruption cannot be substantiated as land was alloted as per the industrial development policies of the central and state governments, the report stated.
The Congress leaders had alleged that a concession of Rs 33,000 crore was given to Tata Nano plant for bringing it to Sanand from West Bengal where it was stuck. As per the panel, Tata Nano project was not the only one to be provided with concession on allotment of land and other benefits in Gujarat and in other states.
“There is no substance in the allegations that Tata Motors Limited was favoured in anyway as contended,” it said. The panel also found no substance in allegations against the Modi government’s decision to allocate lands to Adani Group for Mundra Port and SEZ.
Regarding the allegations of favouring L&T, the report stated that the land was alloted to the company when Modi was not the chief minister, but the chief minister was from the party (Congress) which had made allegations. “The state government is honest and non-corrupt and it has nothing to hide from the people of Gujarat,” Gujarat Deputy Chief Ninister Nitin Patel said while tabling the report on the last day of the budget session.
Other allegations included corruption in purchase of fodder for animals from a blacklisted firm, use of private helicopters and jets by the chief minister on the expense of industrialists who are considered close to the state government, and corruption pertaining to the “Sujlam Suflam” irrigation scheme.
Interestingly, Congress leaders Gohil and Modhvadia had boycotted the proceedings of the panel and did not depose before it when they were told to furnish proof.
However, the Congress said that the state government was forced to make the report public due to the constant pressure being exerted by the opposition party.
“For the last five years, we have been time and again raising the issue of corruption and demanding tabling of the report of the M B Shah Commission in the House. It was due to our pressure that the report has been tabled now,” Congress chief whip Balwantsinh Rajput said. (PTI)

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