It seems Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is on a ‘IAS removal spree'. Within last 10 days, Kejriwal has recommended suspension of top two IAS officers- chief secretary Naresh Kumar (1987 batch) and additional chief secretary (home) Ashwani Kumar (1992 batch), who is also chairman of Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
The chief minister has sent a report by vigilance minister Atishi to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommending sacking of chief secretary Naresh Kumar in connection with an alleged land scam.
The 650-page preliminary report by Atishi has alleged Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar's involvement in enhancing an “exorbitant compensation award” for a parcel of land in Southwest Delhi's Bamnoli village acquired for the Dwarka Expressway, to provide illicit profits to a company linked to Naresh Kumar's son.
The CM has also given directions to Minister Atishi to send the report to CBI and ED.
A week back the CM had recommended suspension of IAS Ashwani Kumar, for allegedly stopping a study to ascertain pollution sources in Delhi and shutting down an anti-smog tower. Kumar is also divisional commissioner in the Delhi government.
The recommendation was based on allegation of Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai who accused Kumar of stopping payment of Rs 2 crore for the operation and maintenance of the smog tower in Connaught Place due to which it remained idle.
What is the alleged ‘land compensation scam'?
The land compensation scam pertains to astronomical compensation awarded against land acquisition at Bamnoli village for the construction of Dwarka Expressway.
In the same case, the union ministry of home affairs has suspended 2013 batch IAS Hemant Kumar and sought CBI probe against him for alleged irregularities in awarding compensation for land acquisition in southwest Delhi's Bamnoli village.
As per the complaint, two land owners received astronomical compensation against acquisition of their land as compared to others.
It is believed that the two landowners – Subhash Chand Kathuria and Vinod Kathuria – are family members of a business aide of the chief secretary's son Karan Chauhan.
The alleged link of chief secy's son
Naresh Kumar's son Karan Chouhan is strategic advisor in Anant Raj Limited, a company owned Aman Sarin, who is son-in-law of Subhash Chand Kathuria – one of the beneficiaries of land acquisition deal.
Chouhan has been deeply associated with Sarin as many business entities of Chouhan match addresses and email ids of Sarin's business entities. These facts establish that Chouhan is not merely as employee of Sarin but more like a business partner.
What is the row?
The land acquisition for the NHAI's Dwarka Expressway started way back in 2017. As per the land acquisition rules, Subash Chand Lathuria and Vinod Kumar Kathuria were paid a compensation of Rs. 41.52 crores for 19-acres of land at the rate of Rs 53 lakh per acre. However, both of them challenged the compensation amount. After that the government appointed an arbitrator to settle the dispute.
But questioning the impartiality of the central government appointed arbitrator, the duo approached the Delhi High Court in 2019 but to no avail.
Later in 2019, District Magistrate Southwest Delhi was asked to act as the arbitrator but the compensation amount remained till June 2022 when Hemant Kumar joined as district magistrate.
Meanwhile Naresh Kumar had also become chief secretary in April 2022. Within next one year, Hemant Kumar decided to increase the compensation from Rs 41.52 crores to Rs 353.7 crores during arbitration.
Earlier the chief secretary had said that it was an act of “mudslinging” by “disgruntled” persons facing vigilance probes.