Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in Gujarat decided to close down Gujarat State Land Development Corporation on Wednesday.
The move, which is unprecedented in the history of Gujarat, comes in wake of allegations of corruption running into crores of rupees in the corporation, entrusted with the task of developing land and water bodies in the state.
Though the Gujarat government has, for obvious reasons, not cited any reasons to close down the corporation, highly placed sources said the decision has to do with the corruption charges.
This is a major embarrassment for the BJP that has been showcasing Gujarat as its model state. Narendra Modi, who was the chief minister of the state previously, was known for his tough stand—na khaunga, na khane dunga' (would not accept bribes, would not allow anyone else to do so)—against corruption.
Agriculture Minister R.C. Faldu said the work of the corporation will now be entrusted to the agriculture and irrigation departments. He added that the corporation will remain functional until 400 employees of the corporation are absorbed into other government departments.
Rs 56 lakh in cash was found from the office of the corporation in Gandhinagar when raids were conducted by the anti-corruption bureau several months ago. Following the raids, the managing director of the corporation was arrested. It is also alleged that deepening of the ponds and small lakes remained only on paper and contracts running into crores of rupees were awarded.
Congress MLA Naushad Solanki alleged that the government decided to close the corporation as if it remained functional, the names of several other senior officers in the secretariat would have come out in connection with the corruption.
State Congress president Amit Chavda slammed the government's decision to close the corporation saying it would deprive the farmers of various benefits. He alleged that the state government was trying to cover up corruption.