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Himachal to probe land deal by Prashant Bhushan

Himachal to probe land deal by Prashant BhushanDharamsala, Jan 9 : The Himachal Pradesh government will inquire into the alleged violation of statutory provisions by Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan in the purchase of land -- meant for tea plantation -- for the use of an educational society.

"We will investigate whether permission granted to Bhushan was only for the purchase of land or change of its use also," Revenue Minister Kaul Singh said here Wednesday.

"If there is a violation of statutory and administrative procedures even in the transfer of land in his (Bhusan's) name, we will take action," he told IANS.

The minister, here to attend the winter session of the assembly, said according to the state's laws, land-use of a tea garden could not be changed.

The land is in Palampur in Kangra district, some 250 km from here.

The previous BJP government had granted permission to transfer the land to Bhushan, a Supreme Court lawyer.

But the Congress party, when it was in the opposition, had demanded an inquiry into the land deal.

There is an embargo on outsiders buying land in Himachal Pradesh without the government's permission.

It was alleged that the land, worth several crores of rupees, was given to the educational society, comprising of members of the Bhushan family, for just a few lakh rupees.

A senior government functionary told IANS that Bhushan's Kumud Bhushan Educational Society was allowed to buy 4.68 hectares Feb 2, 2010, for the construction of an educational institute.

The then revenue minister Gulab Singh, in reply to a question, told the assembly in December 2011 that "from January 1, 2008, to November 30, 2011, land use change" was allowed under Section 118 of the Land Reforms and Tenancy Act to allow Kumud Bhushan Educational Society of Kandbari (in Kangra) to purchase tea gardens.

He said the society was being run by Prashant Bhushan. (IANS)