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IMAX project: Congress renews demand for probe

By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, JULY 4. The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) has renewed its demand for a probe into the `irregularities' committed by the previous Government in allocating land for the IMAX theatre in the `sikham land' (lakebed) of Hussainsagar and the concessions given to it.

Accusing the former Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, of entering into a deal with the management of the theatre for sanction of the project, the former CLP leader, P. Janardhan Reddy, alleged here on Sunday that Mr. Naidu was a partner in the business and hence made such concessions.

The land was given to the theatre flouting all regulations as Prasad Labs (owner of the IMAX) had given away its two-acre land in Jubilee Hills for NTR Trust Bhavan, the headquarters of the Telugu Desam, Mr. Janardhan Reddy alleged. The Trust Bhavan was sanctioned 3,981 sq. metres of land on April 30, 1997 despite the fact that the land was earmarked for a HUDA shopping complex on June 29, 1996 itself, he added.

All theatres in the city were paying an entertainment tax of Rs.1 lakh per week each while the IMAX complex was exempted from the tax. The land was leased to it for 33 years at a cost of Rs. 2.5 crores per annum. The ET exemption alone amounted to Rs. 3.60 crores for the six theatres in the complex, he pointed out. The management was also exempted from paying property tax, betterment charges and stamp duty on court fee, he alleged.

Mr. Janardhan Reddy also accused Mr. Naidu of allowing the management of the Viceroy Hotel to set up a food court complex nearby.

Stamp scam

Mr. Janardhan Reddy urged the Government to initiate a fresh probe into the stamp scam to bring all culprits to book irrespective of their positions in public life. Names of several TDP leaders and top police officials were doing the rounds in the case and efforts must be directed at getting at the truth. He was referring to the CBI notice to two IPS officers who are set to appear before the investigating officers on Monday in this regard.

Meanwhile, the political and administrative circles here are agog over the latest developments and the stamp scam, which rocked the TD Government, has become a live issue. The name of a top gun of the Police Department, who was in a responsible position five years ago and who is said to have given protection to the illegal business of Abdul Kareem Telgi in the State, is also making the rounds as the next target.

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