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MCD dithers, holds up National Intelligence Grid

As the Centre went about issuing an advisory on how to tackle terror in schools, its flagship intelligence security project – National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), proposed after 26/11terrorist attack in Mumbai, got stuck in a land dispute between South Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Development Authority.

On Friday, the standing committee of the civic body refused to pass the layout plan of the NATGRID building and directed the municipal commissioner to approach Delhi High Court to safeguard its interests on the disputed land.

“We will pass the layout plan of the building only if the payment made by Union Ministry for Home Affairs to DDA is paid to South DMC plus annual ground rent of the proposed building or DDA must allot a similar 10 acre land at a suitable place to construct infectious disease hospital proposed by the corporation,” said Subhash Arya, chairman of the standing committee of South DMC and ‘referred back’ the matter. The 10 acre land which is part of a 22.15 acre plot of South MCD at Andheria More in Mehrauli was given to CRPF on rent to set up a temporary unit two years back. The price of the plot is estimated to be Rs 7.4 crore.

“Neither DDA nor Land & Building department could present any record but the officers of the ministry accepted the verbal claims of these agencies to accept the ownership of DDA on the land,”  said Manish Gupta in a written reply in the meeting. He further added that the decision of the Additional Secretary of Union Ministry for Urban Development Bhupendra Bahuguna to reject all their documents of ownership as ‘not credible’ was wrong and arbitrary. “We are ready to put all our records for forensic test,” Gupta said.

Amid the furious debate on the issue the commissioner was pulled up by all  members of the standing committee cutting across party lines for his inability to present the matter to the ministry in a proper way.  Taking part in the debate leader of Opposition Farhad Suri said, “South MCD functions as per an act of parliament so we are equal to any central government agency. No one is above us but parliament,” said Suri.

NATGRID was proposed in 2008 by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and it approached South MCD in October 2013 to approve the layout plan of the building. After the new government took charge at the Centre it was expedited and three meetings were held between South MCD and NATGRID officers. On 7 October MHA asked South MCD to pass the layout plan ex post facto as the matter related to national interest and take the approval of the standing committee later but the civic body refused. On 14 October MUDS summoned a meeting of all the stakeholders and land ownership was decided in favour of DDA. 
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