Shimla: BJP MLA from Shimla and former BJP Chief Suresh Bhardwaj on Friday asked Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to withdraw permission granted to Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra to construct a cottage in the vicinity of summer holiday resort of the Indian President at Chrabara near here, citing security threat. In a letter to the Home Minister, Bhardwaj said even the Prime Minister and other top dignitaries stay at The Retreat during their visit to Shimla. The Kalyani helipad, located in the vicinity of The Retreat that is just 15 km uphill from Shimla, is used exclusively by the Indian Air Force for these VVIPs and for other security sorties. For security reasons, no construction is allowed in the vicinity of either The Retreat or the Kalyani helipad, said his missive.
Bhardwaj’s letter said due to ban of construction in the area, the locals were forced to sell their land at throwaway prices. “Priyanka Vadra purchased about 4,000 sq m of land. She was permitted to construct a huge house by the government in 2007. The construction is still underway, which has put security of the President, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries at stake,” said the letter. The BJP MLA said the permission to construct houses in The Retreat’s vicinity was denied to various other people owing to security reasons. “However, taking advantage of her family status Priyanka Vadra managed to get permission in the high security zone and the security considerations of the President of India are put at stake or compromised,” he added.
He said there is no guarantee that the Special Protection Group (SPG) protected cannot indulge in unlawful or terrorist activities. The BJP leader said her husband Robert Vadra is already under cloud for various fraudulent land deals. Bhardwaj referred to the request of Commodore Devinderjeet Singh to the Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh on August 17, 2008, who bought land by getting permission under section 118 of Land Tenancy and Reforms Act. He was denied the permission due to security reasons, along with the reason that there is no inherent permission for construction in the section 118 permission.
Priyanka Vadra had purchased a three-and-a-half bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) agricultural plot, located at a height of more than 8,000 feet from US-based Satish Kumar Sood and Satinder Sood in 2007. Later, she purchased additional land near the existing one, just half a km away from Wildflower Hall.Priyanka Vadra had pulled down the two-storey five-room cottage, constructed earlier, four years ago as Priyanka Vadra wanted the house to gel with the surroundings. The new structure, rising from the debris of the old one, now gives the impression of a typical hill structure. Interestingly, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra were here from June 13-15 for inspecting the upcoming cottage that is likely to be completed this year.
Even President Pranab Mukherjee was on a four-day sojourn in Shimla and Stayed at The Retreat from June 2. It is pertinent to mention that while Priyanka got the permission to buy land near The Retreat in Charabra and construction a house in previous tenure of Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh, the previous BJP government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal too had granted her permission to buy additional land. As also, recently in response to a RTI application, the district administration Shimla had denied information on Priyanka’s land purchase citing security reasons. The issue is in the court now.
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