Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Noida Extn dreams breaks as court scraps new acquisition

IIPM Mumbai Campus

Panic has given way to complete despair among home buyers in Noida Extension as another court verdict ordered restoration of acquired land to farmers — the second such judgment in less than two weeks — putting in jeopardy the investments of around 30,000 buyers so far.

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday quashed the state`s notifications acquiring 589 hectares of farmland in Patwari village in Greater Noida. The land was later sold to builders through auction and 11 housing projects were coming up there.

The high court has so far reversed the acquisition of around 70% of land in Noida Extension. With three more farmers` suits coming up in the next seven days, all land in the area seems set to be returned to farmers. These lands too were acquired by the authority by invoking the urgency clause without giving them the opportunity to raise objections.

Delivering the verdict on a writ petition filed by farmer Har Karan Singh and several others of Patwari village, a division bench of Justices Sunil Ambwani and S S Tiwari observed: "Dispensation of hearing provided under Section 5-A of the Land Acquisition Act by invoking urgency clause under Section 17 (4) was not proper and legal. Hence, there was no urgency for acquiring farmers` land for residential purposes in Nodia."

The Maya government is not alone in invoke the clause to acquire land. Over 15,000 hectares has been acquired in Noida and Greater Noida since 1991. "Almost all these acquisitions were done using the urgency clause by successive state governments, including that of BJP, SP and BSP," said a senior official in the authority.

The affected builders, meanwhile, are putting up a brave face. Most of them met on Tuesday to find a solution to the crisis facing their projects. The builders association reiterated that developers will protect the interest of buyers. Amrapali, three of whose projects were by Tuesday`s judgment, said, "The decision will not affect the buyers` investment with the group. We require your (buyers`) patience and trust with us and all the commitments shall be fulfilled in due time as promised.``

Meanwhile, the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority is considering approaching the Supreme Court again for judicial review of the verdict. Authority CEO Rama Raman, who was sacked by chief minister Mayawati later in the day, said, "A judicial review seems to be the only way out now." However, given that the Supreme Court had upheld the HC judgment on the Sahberi case earlier in this month, there`s little hope of the decision being upturned.

Reacting to the verdict, the state government too said it would file a special leave petition (SLP) against the high court order in the Supreme Court. Government officials said in Lucknow that a compensation of over Rs 500 crore had already been paid to the farmers and a majority of them had not opposed the acquisition.

The builder, on their part, too said they would go in appeal in the Supreme Court for relief. Most of them had begun construction in the area and had invested substantial sums of money in the projects.

Noida Extension, which is actually sectors 1 to 4 of Greater Noida, covers around 2,000 acres. GNIDA had acquired land in Patwari village three years ago after invoking the urgency clause on the pretext of laying down industrial units, and 90% of the villagers had claimed their compensation. However, around two dozen villagers had approached the Allahabad High Court earlier this year and submitted roughly 50 petitions seeking restoration of the acquired land.

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Item Numbers Are The New Mantras of Bollywood

2010 was the year of the item girl. The once-reviled afterthought became the highlighting act. With the item number going mainstream, lead actresses fell over themselves to become the object of everyone's attention.

Item Numbers Are The New Mantras of Bollywood
Item Numbers Are The New Mantras of Bollywood
Producers now invest crores just to shoot one of these videos. And with the likes of Katrina Kaif and Malaika Arora Khan leading the list, the year saw a deluge of item numbers flood screens.

Jacqueline Fernandis and Gauhar Khan made a mark as did Brazilian sizzler and newbie Maria Gopez (who did a disappearing act after shooting for her item number). Sameera Reddy featured on the lower rungs as did Saif's former girlfriend Rozza Catalano.

Songs don't just need lyrics to create a stir, the latka-jhatkas and the bump-n-grinds have become intrinsic to success on the charts. The item number phenomenon hasn't missed the men, either ( Aamir Khan took up the baton this year). 3.43 lakh votes were received on

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Monday, July 04, 2011

Rs. One Lakh Crore Treasure Found In Kerala Temple

Call it the mother of all treasure hunts. The stock-taking by a panel of experts at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy templehas catapulted the shrine located here to the country's richest, with reports claiming that the value of recoveries may have touched close to Rs 1 lakh crore, more than Kerala public debt of Rs 70,969 crore.

With one more "secret" vault yet to be opened, the figure in all likelihood will go up further. But sources said the figures could only be speculation as it wasn't possible to determine the antique value of the precious gems and jewellery. "These are antique pieces and it's not possible to determine their prices," said historian and former director of Indian Council of Historical Research M G S Narayanan. In other words, the worth of the treasure could be intimidatingly higher.

The Supreme Court-appointed committee on Sunday refused to confirm reports about the value of the recoveries, saying that its mandate is limited to making an inventory of the assets.

Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy said the treasure would remain with the temple. "The wealth belonged to the temple and it will be preserved where it was found. There is religious and historical significance to the findings. The state will ensure its security," Chandy told reporters on Sunday.

Chandy said the police would patrol the shrine 24X7 and a control room had already started functioning. "Permanent security arrangements will be put in place only after consultations with the chief priest of the temple and the Travancore king who is the caretaker of the shrine," the CM said.

A source said the seven-member panel was stunned by what it found in the secret vault marked `A' during its inspection on Thursday. There were close to 1,000 kg of gold coins, some of these from the East India Company era and Napolean's period, about one tonne of gold in the form of rice trinkets, sack full of diamonds said to be from Burma and Sri Lanka, a rope made of gold and thousands of pieces of rare 'sarappoli' necklaces.

The stock-taking continued next day as only 30% of the assets could be counted on Thursday. Again there were surprises in the form of a three-and-a-half feet tall idol of Lord Vishnu studded with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, an 18-feet-long ornament used to adorn the deity and weighing 35 kg and 1 feet tall human figurines weighing 1 kg each. There were coins marked 1772 indicating they were from the era of former Travancore ruler Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma better known as `Dharma Raja' for his strict adherence to the rules of 'dharma'.

Entry was strictly forbidden for the media and public to the site. There are six vaults marked A to F in the shrine. The A and B cellars have never been opened after 1872. The panel had set out on the job on June 27 and opened three vaults marked C, D and F till Wednesday.

The observers, retired Kerala high court judge Justice M N Krishnan and Justice C S Rajan, said it was difficult give an exact date when the stock-taking would be completed. The B and E vaults remain to be opened.

Narayanan said there were specific documents called 'Mathilakam records' which speak about the history of the shrine and about how the assets came into it. "The temple has been known since the 9th Century and figures in the writings of that time. Native ruler of Travancore (then pricely state) Marthanda Varma had given away all the wealth to the deity and ruled the kingdom as the Lord's agent."

"Travancore was a very prosperous state and with its port facilities, traded in spices, sandalwood and ivory. The foreign currency recovered from the vaults may have come in through the trade route," he added.

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