Photo: AP Images
A new $39 billion land scandal has hit the headlines in India.An official report by Karnataka minorities commission chairman Anwar Manipaddy alleges that 27,000 acres of charity-controlled land have been illegally sold to India’s richest and most powerful, by politicians, middlemen, and the land mafia, the Financial Times reported.
The allegations involve the Wakf Board land – a Muslim charitable trust have been submitted to chief minister of Karnataka. The Central Wakf Council is a statutory body established by the government to advise state Wakf Boards on buildings or plots of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes.
38 members of the Congress Party, the leading party of India’s coalition government have been named in the report. 85 per cent of the properties were said to be concentrated in the southern city of Bangalore.
Land grabs and illegal land sales are notorious in India. Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani got a lot of flak for his billion dollar Mumbai home because he was caught up in a controversy with the Maharashtra Wakf Board as well. The Maharashtra state government at the time had issued an order to confiscate Ambani’s plot of land. But the Maharashtra Wakf Board eventually issued a no-objection certificate after Ambani paid them a paltry Rs. 16 lakh (about $31,250).
This comes a week after the government was accused of losing $210 billion in potential coal revenues by selling coal fields to top industrialists and companies, giving them undue benefits. And this follows on the $39 billion telecom scandal.
The string of scandals is making the Indian government lose credibility in the international community and has been a deterrent to foreign investors. It is also going to be a blow to the Congress Party ahead of general elections in 2014.
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