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Badals got Rs 108 cr waived in taxes for luxury hotel, alleges Punjab CM; SAD issues rejoinder

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) dared Mann to register a case to substantiate his allegations against SAD chief Sukhbir Badal or apologise for uttering 'malicious lies'.
Last Updated 29 February 2024, 16:09 IST

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday alleged that the Badal family had taxes worth Rs 108 crore waived for a Mohali-based luxury hotel -- Sukhvilas -- by way of a "tailor-made" eco-tourism policy during the Akali regime.

The state government will take action in the matter, he said.

Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) dared Mann to register a case to substantiate his allegations against SAD chief Sukhbir Badal or apologise for uttering "malicious lies", failing which he should be ready to face another defamation suit.

Addressing the media here, Mann claimed that the Badal family claimed tax exemption worth Rs 108 crore for the luxury hotel project for a period of ten years from 2007-2017.

He said Sukhvilas is a 7-star hotel and charges 4-5 lakh per night for some rooms.

Metro Ecogreen Resort is the real name of this hotel, which is located in Palanpur village in Majri block of Mohali district, he said.

"It was a conflict of interest and misuse of power," Mann alleged.

The Aam Aadmi Party leader claimed that the Akali government framed Punjab eco-tourism policy, 2009 to "facilitate" the construction of the hotel.

As construction could not take place on this land, which is a forest area, they brought the eco-tourism policy in 2009 and later brought an amendment in the law for the construction of the hotel, he alleged.

Before setting up the hotel, there used to be a poultry farm owned by the Badal family, he claimed.

"Later, the Change of Land Use permission was given to build the hotel. Who would have refused the CLU when they themselves were in power. Even though, under the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, no commercial activity could be undertaken there," Mann said.

Mann said a Badal-owned company, Metro Ecogreen Resort Limited, took approval for nearly 20 acres on March 2, 2009 for the project.

Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board gave the approval in December 2010 for setting up an ecotourism resort in village Palanpur, he said.

Another Badal family-owned company Taj Travels Private Ltd took approval for ecotourism on a piece of land in Palanpur, he claimed

Metro Ecogreen Resort purchased over 23 kanal (about 2.50 acres) land from the Taj Travels. Thus total land accumulated was 20.8 acres, he said.

Mann claimed that majority of the shares in Metro Ecoreen resort Ltd were held by the Badal family. "Sukhbir Badal holds 1.83 lakh shares of this private limited company, his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal 81,500 shares, while Dabwali Transport Company holds 5,350 shares."

The construction activity for the hotel began in May 2013 and commercial activity started from April 1, 2016.

Under the eco-tourism policy, no other hotel came up, he said. "It was only for their hotel."

Mann said the project was given incentives worth Rs 108.73 crore for a period from May 11, 2015 to May 10, 2025.

" State Goods and services tax (SGST) and value added tax (VAT) were waived for the project for a period of 10 years. For ten years, State GST or VAT will not be applicable on the hotel, which works out to over Rs 85 crore," he claimed.

In addition, electricity duty of Rs 11.44 crore and luxury tax and annual licence fee of Rs 11.44 crore were waived for a period of ten years, he claimed.

Mann further said that the road leading to Sukhvilas was specially constructed by Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) from taxpayers' money.

Replying to a question, Mann said, "action will be taken (in the matter). Which laws were misused. Why was this (eco-tourism) policy framed for themselves only? How CLU was taken."

Mann said the entire amount of tax payers money will be recovered.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief spokesman Arshdeep Singh Kler termed the allegations "false" and said they were made by Mann solely to divert attention from the zero FIR registered in the death of farmer Shubhkaran Singh.

He said this was not the first time the chief minister had indulged in such diversionary tactics when cornered.

"Earlier, Bhagwant Mann had held a similar press conference to accuse former chief minister Charanjit Channi of taking a bribe of Rs 2 crore from a sportsman but failed to register a case in the matter," Kler claimed.

"The Vigilance department is with the chief minister. Why has he not proceeded in this matter since the last two years?" he asked

Challenging Mann to either register a case or be ready to prove his allegations in the court of law, Kler said "a detailed rejoinder based on the true facts in the case will be given tomorrow."

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(Published 29 February 2024, 16:09 IST)

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