Chandigarh: The BJP government in Himachal Pradesh has leased out land worth crores to Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust (PYT) on a pittance to develop what is being touted as a Haridwar-like centre of excellence in ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine.
96 bigha land in Sadhupul village has reportedly been leased out to the PYT for 99 years on a one-time payment of Rs 17,31,214 and an annual token lease money of Re 1.
Compare this to the 4 bigha, adjoining the PYT land, held by Indira Holiday Home Society that runs a home for poor children and for which it is being asked to pay an annual Rs 2.26 as lease money.
The royal house of Patiala gifted the land, which they once used as a summer resort, to the erstwhile Punjab government for the benefit of children and it became a part of Himachal when Punjab's hills became a part of Himachal in the 60s. But the Dhumal government's move to lease it out to the PYT has irked former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, the scion of the Patiala royal family.
Singh has written to Dhumal, questioning the leasing out of the land, apparently worth more than Rs 20 crore, to the PYT.
In his letter, Singh said, "The specific purpose of donating this land and house was to name this as Indira Holiday Home to be used by children during vacations.
"This has been going on since 1956 until the day the property was handed over to Ramdev for a token lease amount of Re 1 per year for 99 years."
"I am sure you are aware that Ramdev does not fit in this category and by this lease he has denied the use of this property to children defeating the ultimate idea behind the donation," he added.
The Punjab unit of the Congress is also unhappy over the manner in which the land deal was carried out last February.
The BJP has, however, defended its decision to lease out the land to Baba Ramdev's trust.
Addressing newspersons BJP general secretary JP Nadda said no rules were breached while the land was leased out to PYT and there is no dispute.
He added that the party would still review the entire issue and was open to the idea of probe if needed.
Himachal Health Minister, Rajiv Bindal has also defended the land deal, saying the PYT centre at Sadhupul would encourage the cultivation of medicinal herbs, give a boost to ayurveda and make the state a popular destination for health tourism.
He said Indira Holiday Home was given land at the market rate, in accordance with the high court's order, adding that PYT had not been given land on an annual Rs-1-lease.
Bindal also slammed Amrinder Singh for playing politics.