A Group of Ministers of the Andhra Pradesh government on Friday recommended a detailed probe into alleged insider trading by certain Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders and their kin and associates in purchasing land in the Amaravati region, before it was formally declared as the state capital region in 2014.
In its report, the cabinet sub-committee, headed by Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath, "prima facie established irregular" land deals and recommended a detailed investigation either by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), state Crime Investigation Department (CID) or Lokayukta, Information and Public Relations Minister Perni Venkataramaiah told reporters on Friday.
The GoM 'established' that some TDP bigwigs were involved in insider trading.
In all 4,075 acres of land was purchased in Amaravati region just before the then Chandrababu Naidu government declared it as the capital on December 30, 2014, the minister said.
Besides Naidu, the report said that former state minister Paritala Sunitha, former Vinukonda MLA GVS Anjeneyulu, businessman Lingamaneni Ramesh, who is known to be close to the TDP chief and Uravakonda MLA and PAC chairman, Payyavula Keshav, were the main beneficiaries of the alleged insider trading.
Present and former TDP leaders Lanka Dinakar, Dhulipalla Narendra, Kambhampati Rammohan Rao and Putta Mahesh Yadav were also named, besides Vemuri Ravi Kumar Prasad, an NRI who was also a close associate of Naidu's son and TDP leader Nara Lokesh.
The GoM also pointed to specific instances of alleged insider trading, pointing out that Lingamaneni Ramesh had purchased land in the name of his wife and other relatives, while P Narayana, who was the Municipal Administration Minister of the TDP government had allegedly purchased land via his benamis. Both the deals were struck just before Amaravati was announced as the capital.
The report alleged that ex-MLA Kommalapati Sridhar had purchased land via his firm Abhinandana Housing Private Limited, while Vemuru Ravikumar bought land via his business firms, which included Future Space India Pvt Ltd, Goshpadi Green Fields Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad and Future Trends Constructions and Infrastructure Ltd.
"Certain people who were members of the party in power, or their relatives held/acquired huge extents of land within or near the designated capital city. This was one of the main reasons for locating the capital area as per the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Act, 2014. Apart from this, to additionally favour the above-mentioned category of landholding people, the government manipulated the boundaries of the capital area after the initial designation," the report said
Manipulation of boundaries
The sub-committee said that two main types of manipulation of boundaries were observed.
The first, was redrawing the boundaries of the CRDA to bring in the areas belonging to the leaders of the TDP into the CRDA zone. Secondly, the committee claimed that boundaries of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS) area were redesigned in such a way, that the lands of the leaders of the TDP or their relatives fell right adjacent to the boundary, thereby making them exempt from the scheme.
Besides alleging that a change in the Inner Ring Road (IRR) was done to benefit certain people, the sub-committee said that assigned land holders were also intimidated and cheated under the name of LPS.
The report also alleged that there were irregularities in land allotment in the capital region.
"The government allotted 850 acres of land (between July 2016 and December 2017) to five private allottees for establishment of universities and healthcare institutions before formulation of a uniform pricing policy," the report noted.
Probe to be initiated soon
The YSRCP, which is now in power, has been alleging for long that TDP leaders indulged in insider trading and purchased huge tracts of land to make windfall gains as the region was being made the state capital.
The TDP rebutted the claims saying that only 175 acres of land was purchased between June 2 and December 30, 2014 in Amaravati region.
"If (Finance Minister) Buggana comes out with a public statement on the so-called insider trading, I will definitely file a defamation case against him," senior TDP leader and five-time MLA Dhulipalla Narendra said.
At the Cabinet meeting on Friday, ministers came up with different suggestions on the kind of probe against TDP leaders, with some asking the Chief Minister to entrust it to CBI and some to the CID.
"Only a minority of us suggested a probe by Lokayukta as its a judicial body," one minister said.
The Chief Minister told the ministers that he would seek legal opinion before taking a decision on the investigation.