Sadavarti Lands Auction: A Slap In The Face Of TDP-BJP Govt

The 83.11 acre land given away to  a TDP leader’s kin for a paltry sum of Rs22.4 crore fetched Rs60.30 crore, almost three times the previous amount.  - Sakshi Post

By Ramachandra Murthy Kondubhatla

The auction of Sadavarti choultry lands organised by Andhra Pradesh Endowments Commissioner P Anuradha in Chennai on Monday has more angles than one can see. The same lands (83.11 acres), which were given away to six relatives and friends of Ch Ramanuja, a TDP leader and chairman of the Kapu Welfare & Development Corporation, for a paltry sum of Rs22.4 crore, fetched almost three times that amount. The outcome in the auction is a tight slap in the face of the TDP-BJP government. It is established beyond doubt that AP government clandestinely helped the buyers to get the land at a cheaper rate. The second auction stopped at Rs60.3 crore. It was in the name of Srinivasa Reddy on behalf of Satyanarayana Builders of Proddatur in Kadapa district. After verifying the sealed tenders and e-tenders, Anuradha declared that the bid by Satyarayana Builders was the highest.

Petitioner Ramakrishna Reddy went upto Rs43 crore and stopped there. The person who has gone upto 54.15, the second highest bidder, was a participant in the first bidding as well. The highest bid in the sealed tenders was that of Brahmanandam for Rs50.25 crore. The Commissioner said she would submit a report on the auction to the Supreme Court and further action would be taken up depending on the decision of the apex court. The highest bidder has to pay half of the amount within 48 hours. The SC will resume examination of the case on the 22nd. The decision and the comments of the SC on seeing the Commissioner’s report would be crucial.

RK’s Triumph

The fact that the lands fetched three times to the amount offered by the top bidder in the first auction is a victory for YSRCP in general and Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, Mangalagiri MLA of the YSRCP, and P. Sudhakar Reddy, advocate, in particular. Party chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had appointed a Fact Finding Committee headed by party’s senior leader Dharmana Prasada Rao. The Committee, which visited the place, opined that the lands are very valuable and they would certainly fetch more revenue than what was offered in the first auction. It felt that the first auction, held on 28 March 2016, was doctored in such a way that the intended persons would be benefited.

The outcome in the auction is a tight slap in the face of the TDP-BJP government. It is established beyond doubt that AP government clandestinely helped the buyers to get the land at a cheaper rate.

The process was hurried and it was not transparent. Mangalgiri MLA of YSRCP, Ramakrishna Reddy (RK), a tenacious fighter who has specialized in legal battles against the government, is a happy man since he was instrumental in getting more revenues to the government for the same land which was earlier given away for a song. Talking to this writer, he said the real value of the land would be far more than the amount that is expected to be realized even from the second auction. But he could not do anything more about it. Reddy had organised a company (M/S PLR Pvt. Ltd.) to pay Rs28.5 crore in response to the order of the AP High Court that he should deposit an amount which is higher than the sum (Rs22.4 crore) realized in the first auction.

The petitioner has appealed to the State government to spend the auction proceeds on the poor Brahmin boys who wish to study Vedas, the purpose for which it was originally menat. Endowment Minister P Manikyala Rao had said in July this year that the government had conducted the first auction in a transparent way and if any person is ready to pay one per cent more that the original bid, the government would be happy to give away the land in question. Minister of IT, Nara Lokesh commented, perhaps in a lighter vein, that if anyone pays more than the bid amount, the IT department would be after the person.

Prime Lands Close To Chennai

The prime lands are in the old Mahabalipuram under Thalamburu village of Changalpattu taluq in Kanchipuram district in Tamil Nadu adjacent to Satyabhama college. They belong originally to Sadavarthivari Satram of Sri Amaralingeswara Swamy temple at Amaravati. It was donated by Vasireddi Venkatadri Naidu, Raja of Challapalli, for the sake of poor students who study Vedas. The choultry lands, which are close to Chennai, were taken over by the Endowments department of Andhra Pradesh in 1962. It has a long history in litigation. The legatees of Vasireddy family also had to become part of the legal tussles. After the TDP came to power, a letter by TDP MLA from Pedakurapadu in Guntur district, Kammalapati Sridhar, was instrumental in making Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to go for auction.

A consultant lawyer based in Chennai fixed the estimated rate as Rs50 lakh per acre. The officials of the AP Endowments department put the price at Rs6 crore per acre. But the bidder in the first auction went only up to Rs22 lakh per acre. When RK’s plea was upheld by the AP High Court which ordered the re-auction of the property, one person by name Sanjeeva Reddy challenged HC decision in Supreme Court. The apex court had upheld the High Court’s decision. Anuradha said before the auction on Monday that Rs 28.44 crore, paid by M/S PLR company before the stipulated date, on 30 July 2017, would be kept as the base price in the auction. The amount quoted by the top bidder was unexpectedly high.

TDP Leaders Among the Bidders

But Naidu would not relent. He appears to be particular about the property. The highest bidder in Monday’s auction in Chennai, Satyanarayana Builders, is a company owned by eight directors whose political allegiance is to the TDP. Konda Reddy, son of Varadarajulu Reddy, TDP leader and former MLA from Proddaturu, is a director in the company. Srinivasulu Reddy, who participated in the auction on behalf of Satyanarayana Builders, is also a director of the company. He is also the chairman of Proddatur Government Hospital Development Committee and a right hand of Varadarajulu Reddy. AP Minister for Marketing Adinarayana Reddy reportedly has stakes in the construction company which is building a multiplex with five theatres and a shopping mall at Proddatur. The fact that the top bidders in the second auction also happen to be businessmen who have strong TDP connections gives rise to suspicion on the role of the powers that be in the whole drama. Land and sand have been central to the politics of the TDP ever since it came to power in 2014.

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