Social activist TJ Abraham on Thursday challenged Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to take criminal action against Congress leader and former RDPR minister HK Patil and others for corruption and committing fraud in connection with a solar power project in Gadag.
At a press conference, Abraham, who is also President of Anti-Graft and Environmental Forum, alleged that Patil and others caused a wrongful loss to the state government and wrongful gain of around Rs 60 crore per annum, totalling to around Rs 270 crore since April 2018 by illegally allowing Amplus KN Solar Private Limited to set up the Solar Power Project in Kurtakoti village in Gadag district.
The former minister and others are still raking in ill-gotten money from the project even as Energy Minister V Sunil Kumar is turning a blind eye on the fraud.
“CM Bommai says if they (Congress) have strength and courage, let them give us proof of corruption and the government will act. I brought this fraud to the notice of the government, but it did not act through a letter dated April 4, 2022. If the Bommai government and Sunil Kumar have any courage, it must take action against Patil and others in the Gadag solar power project scam,” he told reporters.
If this is not checked, the total loss to the state exchequer would be around Rs 600 crore at the end of the tenure period of 10 years, which will ultimately reach Petronas, a Malaysian integrated Oil and Gas multinational company owned by Malaysian government, Abraham alleged.
In a written complaint to Karnataka Lokayukta Police, a copy of which is with this news agency, the activist alleged that Amplus KN Solar started commercial operations of the solar plant without complying with conditions expressly in the government order dated July 10, 2017.
The company also violated Section 95 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act of 1964 and established and commissioned the solar plant on lands belonging to third parties without acquiring legal title and possession rights of agricultural land and without getting the same duly converted for non-agricultural purpose as required under the law, Abraham said.
“Thus, Amplus KN Solar acted against the law by carrying out its dishonest intention to deceive and defraud the energy department along with energy supply companies (escoms) in connivance and active participation of other accused for the direct benefit of Patil and others, thereby causing huge financial loss to the escoms which are state government undertakings,” he said.
Out of the 691 acres utilised for the 135 MW solar plant, as per the KREDL list of lands, which include the revenue survey numbers and extent, a total of 222 acres of land were not converted for non-agricultural or industrial purpose prior to Commercial Operation Dates (CODs), Abraham alleged.
And out of the 222 acres of land, application for conversion of 135 acres of land was not submitted, establishing a clear violation and contravention of the conditions laid down in the government order, which mandates that all lands to be used for the project should be converted for non-agricultural purposes before commissioning, he said.
Abraham also alleged that the officials of the revenue department have not not only overlooked such a large scale violation, but also covered up the act by issuing fabricated spot-inspection reports to support issuance of land conversion order despite fully operational solar plant stood on the very same agricultural lands at the time of spot-inspection.
The Gadag Deputy Commissioner intentionally avoided imposing the statutory penalty for violation of Section 95 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act on the defaulting land owners, thereby causing further loss to the state exchequer, he said.
The DC also did not take any punitive action against Amplus KN Solar by way of demolition of unauthorised construction on agricultural lands in accordance with the prevalent law, Abraham alleged.
The accused executive engineer of Gadag’s HESCOM issued the commissioning certificate despite the fact that the solar plant was established on agricultural lands, he said.
Abraham alleged that the company had acquired the so-called title over the lands by way of sub-lease deeds, which were executed on various dates, much after the date of commissioning of the solar plant, which was illegally commissioned as per the COD specified in the commissioning certificates issued by executive engineer.
He alleged that Aadit Solar Power Private Limited, promoted by Ranganagouda Patil who is nephew of Patil, undertook the responsibility of having the lands converted from agricultural to non-agricultural purposes.
For this, an illegal collection of money in the name of management fees of Rs 8,000 per acre per annum out of 691 acres for a period of 29.5 years, total of which would be Rs 16.30 crores is being collected from the company, which is virtually an illegitimate kickback arrangement to gain illegally, he said.
“Aadit Solar has abused the office of the then RDPR Minister Patil who was also Gadag district incharge minister to coerce the public officials to turn a blind eye to the violations of law and commit illegalities to favour Aadit Solar Power and Amplus KN Solar in line with the mutual agreement executed between both the parties on November 6, 2017 as specified in Schedule F of the sub lease deed executed on September 24 , 2018,” he said.
Amplus KN Solar also illegally utilised 32 acres of land belonging to Patil for setting up of the solar plant, Abraham added.