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Millennium Post

Help me, dear CAG!

Who did ever think that India’s guardian auditor, the Comptroller & Auditor General, would create such a havoc in my personal life! I am neither in a government job, nor do I own, or ever was eligible to bid, for a public private partnership [PPP] project. In fact by my net worth, if the Planning Commission honestly estimates the poverty line, I will merit being clubbed in the BPL list. Yet I am hit by the screaming headlines in print media, the hoarse screams of the boom brigade or reputed anchors. How?

Well I happened to make the cardinal mistake of buying an accommodation for myself in the national capital where I earn my daily livelihood. That was much before a modest two roomed accommodation in the lower-middle class mosquito-infested locale of trans-Yamuna had all the constructions for the show-case Commonwealth Games. Those were the times when the roof over the head there was somehow within the reach of the marginal white-collar strugglers like me.
My plight started after the CAG leaks started.

I received a communication from the previous owner who had sold his modest dwelling at a hefty profit in 1996 [by the standard of differential he pocketed over his purchase price] that I had cheated him and that I owed a sum of a few crore. If I do not pay him immediately he will go to media first and then get a PIL filed. He also mentioned that he knew some friends who had good contacts with some members of Lokpal Anna brigade.

Weak in any calculation I sought help from a banker friend of mine. 'Please explain the issue, Supravat.' Confused and shaken as I am I did not pay much attention to the expletives Supravat used on my ability on numbers.  

What I could gather from the tough lesson my friend shoved down my throat was that there is something called Net Future Value [NFV] as against Net Present Value or NPV. The flat that I bought in 1996 which was worth just Rs 8 lakh then is now Rs 1 crore. In other words over a period of 14 [I got possession in 1998] years I have gained Rs 92 lakh. This works out to a per annum gain of close to Rs 7 lakh. In percentage terms this is an annual gain of 80 per cent.

Since I am not expected to die in the next few months and in all likelihood will live under the same roof for another 20 years at least I will keep gaining at the rate of Rs 7 lakh per annum for 20 more years if not more. To cut the drab arithmetic short the previous owner claimed a sum of  Rs 2 crore from me as his legitimate due.

In defence in his long 20 page missive the gentleman had cited several cases. First he mentioned the case against the current operators of the national capital’s showcase airport. They had bought land in 1955 at a meager rate of Rs five per square yard for from farmers. The worth of the land per acre, as per the CAG estimate, is Rs 681 crore 30 year down the line. Therefore the litigants have asked for the balance amount. And this made a screaming story in a well-reputed national daily. He had kindly annexed the report to the letter. That in 1955 the concessionaire company was not even on a drawing board and therefore cannot be held accountable for the rate given to the landsellers of 1955 did not deter anybody to accept the sanctity of the report.

My tormentor also cited the case of NOIDA extension. The farmers had sold the land at an agreed price then. But now the valuation has gone up, thanks to all other developmental activities. If the farmers can seek the differential amount now, wrote my tormentor, he, too, can claim the amount from me.

I sought advice from a journalist friend of mine. He agreed that the  previous owner of the roof on top of my head has a legitimate right to go to the media. Even if a mainstream publication or channel find it too insignificant an amount in the age of CAG’s lakhs of crores  there will be enough number of not-so-snooty media who will certainly make a case against me. All my tormentor perhaps should agree with such media is to share a part of what he manages to extort from hapless me. 'Isn’t it what trial lawyers in USA do?'

I asked my banker friend if I would be eligible to borrow the net future value of my flat and negotiate with my tormentor for some reduced amount! 'Stupid, banks lend only on the basis of net present value. There is no concept of Net Future Value.' Who can give me the best advice? 'Nobody, not even the nation’s Prime Minister,' smiled my journalist friend. 'Don’t you see how even the CEO of the nation is being accused on coal mines case. Did anybody know what a coal mine is in 2006 when these were allotted for generation of power?'

I had no interest in so much knowledge caught as I am today on the claim from the previous owner of my flat. Should I seek help from India’s CAG?
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