Setting this aside, even within the legal ambit of the GDQ, TEHELKA’s investigation shows that many of the allotments in Karunanidhi’s tenure have violated the rule book. Many bureaucrats and their relatives have been given plots or flats under the category of “social worker”. Some of these last did social work when they were in college; many of them claim to be volunteers in such routine activity as helping in blood donation or eye camps. Many have issued certificates to themselves; some have acquired letters from the Lions and Rotary Clubs with vague endorsements. In other violations, the rules say that no one who has any other land or property in Tamil Nadu or any other capital city, in either their own or spouse or minor children’s name, can apply for GDQ allotments. TEHELKA found this is routinely violated.
The other brazen violation lies in the claim of “unblemished” service records as a qualification for allotment. When RTI activist V Gopalakrishnan sought a list of such bureaucrats, Additional Secretary S Solomon Raj said, “As no unblemished government servant certificates are issued, the question of furnishing a list of names does not arise.” The additional secretary also clarified that the home department didn’t have such a list. This is the phantom category under which many public servants like Jaffar Sait, 1986 batch IPS officer, now Inspector General of Police–Intelligence, got large allotments of land in prime locations. Why them more than hundreds of others? That’s a democratic question the chief minister will have to answer.
Some of the allotments.
Former MP, who left Vaiko to join DMK
Ganeshan is a trade union leader with the DMK and is close to Karunanidhi. He owns property in his as well as his wife’s name.
Wife of late Chezhiyan and daughter-in-law of Agriculture Minister Veerapandi Arumugam
PLOT NO: HIG B 3/14, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 13 MARCH 2008
PRICE: Rs. 9.82 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 45-50 LAKH
Allotted flat under Social worker category. The tehsildar of Salem issued her a certificate though he is not empowered to. The certificate says she “is a well-known social worker involved in social welfare activities such as president of Poolavari village panchayat, head of parent-teachers association, participating in educational programmes of many schools”.
Widow of Sivagangai politician Thennarasu
FLAT NOS: S7, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTN
DATE: 26 AUGUST 2008
SIZE: 3,879 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 79.13 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.75 CRORE
She was allotted the plot under the Social Worker category. An RTI application revealed that she had not been engaged in any kind of social work that would make her eligible for this category.
FLAT NOS: E2/6, MIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 5 DECEMBER 2008
PRICE: Rs. 72.5 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 4 CRORE
Allotted under the Social Worker category on a certificate issued by the Lions Club. Owns several plots in his and his wife’s name.
Daughter of Devaraj M, Private Secretary to the Chief Minister
FLAT NOS: 543, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR (PLOT ADJOINING SAIT’S AND SHANKAR’S)
DATE: 23 MAY 2008
SIZE: 4,466 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.08 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA
Allotted plot under the Social Worker category but there’s no evidence to back it. Constructing a three-storey building involving a cost beyond the family’s known sources of income. Her husband owns another property in his name. Her plot is adjacent to the plots of IGP-Intelligence Jaffar Sait and Durga Shankar, son of the CM’s secretary.
K Raviraja Pandian
Retired Justice, Madras High Court
PLOT NO: B2/5, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 11 NOVEMBER 2009
SIZE: 3,117 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 68.54 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.2 CRORE
Close relative of DMK supremo Karunanidhi and the Chairman of the School Fee Determination Committee. Little wonder then he was also the recipient of special favours while he was still a serving judge. At the time of the allotment, the judge owned a 50 percent share in an ancestral house at Thiruveezhimizhalai village. The judge had also sold a property he owned at Pazhavatthankattali village near Kumbakonam. The land was purchased in 1991, a house was constructed on it in 1992 and sold in 2009. He had also sold the landed property of his wife in 2009.
Reactions of allottes.
D Yashoda, Congress MLA, Kancheepuram
“I have done a lot of work for Dalits throughout Tamil Nadu, especially in Sriperumbudur and Chennai. I have helped them in getting pattas for their land, recommending their names for loans from banks, distributing cycles to Dalits on the birthdays of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.”
Jaffar Sait, IPS, IG-Intelligence
“Government agencies have already probed the matter. I am being governed by the conduct rules, so I should not talk to you about the issue. It is advisable that you seek a response from the Tamil Nadu government. I would like to add that if any defamation or liability arises out of your article, necessary legal action would be taken.”
P Moorthy, Madurai MLA
“I don’t know much about the certificate, I think I got the plot because I’m an MLA. I have done a lot of work in uplifting the people in villages of my constituency. That amounts to social work. I don’t need a social work certificate from the Lions Club but my friends, partners and I took the certificate anyway. “
In a frank chat, Umashanker talks about how the government discretionary quota has been misused. Excerpts:
Why are bureaucrats, judges, former judges and politicians given housing plots in posh localities under government discretionary quota?
Who can refuse a good piece of land in Chennai city? It’s a way of rewarding people for good work done. No inquiry has been conducted in this matter so far. Discretionary quota is the prerogative of the government. After RTI came into existence, several activists are taking up the matter in court. Basically, there is no control mechanism or checks and balances. There is little transparency while awarding the GDQ — the plots are allotted without formal applications.
You were also allotted a plot in 2008 under the ‘unblemished government servant’ category. What happened to the allotment?
Yes, I was allotted a plot in Thiruvanmiyur Extension. Initial payment for the plot was Rs. 25 lakh. I never had that much money. So I requested the government to reduce the price. But there was no response. I did not want a house to compromise my integrity. So I never took possession. Later, in 2009, the government ordered a vigilance inquiry against me and cancelled the allotment. Frankly, I was not aware about the TNHB rules that bars a person having a plot, a flat or a house from claiming another plot.
Do you think the GDQ quota is a way of silencing people, buying them out?
Yes, it is a way of making you a part of the syndicate. Plots or flats are given to those civil servants, judges or relatives of the bureaucrats or politicians for complying with certain requirements. There is no procedure for IAS or IPS officers to get a land or plot or flat in a transparent manner. So everybody uses short cuts.