Holding him responsible for arbitrarily and unilaterally ordering the shifting of the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) headquarters from Connaught Place to Lajpat Nagar, the Delhi government has transferred K.R. Meena, the managing director of the public sector undertaking, while halting the relocation. Meena, a 1993 IAS officer, has been replaced by Mohanjeet Singh. Sources said that DSIIDC chairman and Delhi Industries Minister, Satyendra Jain ordered Meena’s removal after it was brought to his notice that the MD had initiated the process for moving the DSIIDC headquarters from CP to Lajpat Nagar without his knowledge and permission.
The DSIIDC has been occupying the prime space in the heart of Connaught Place since the past four decades and the shifting decision was apparently triggered when the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), which owns the premises, decided to hike the rent to Rs 28 lakh per month. The premises were once occupied by the Hindustan Times group, till the media giant moved into its own sprawling new multi-storeyed building on 18-20 Kasturba Gandhi Marg in the early 1970s.
The Delhi government is understood to have also initiated an inquiry on why the IAS officer took this unilateral decision, given that the current premises were worth many times more than the rent paid for the occupation. The Corporation has been paying up to Rs 8-10 lakh per month for some of its liquor shops functioning in different parts of the city. Therefore, a sum of Rs 28 lakh for the spacious office space in the Middle Circle opposite the Competent Motors is considered a pittance. In Connaught Place, small restaurants and bars are believed to be paying approximately Rs 15 lakh per month to their tenants and given the going rate, the market value for the area occupied by the DSIIDC would run into crores.
DSIIDC employees are of the view that even if the headquarters were to be relocated, the present space should have been retained because of its commercial importance. The corporation could have used it for showcasing its core agenda as also for opening an emporium or a state of the art liquor vend.
The DSIIDC chairman was totally taken by surprise that the MD had ordered the staff at the headquarters to start moving the official files and belongings to the Lajpat Nagar office. He asked the staff to restore status quo and instructed the officers to stay put in their offices.
The DSIIDC chairman was totally taken by surprise that the MD had ordered the staff at the headquarters to start moving the official files and belongings to the Lajpat Nagar office. He asked the staff to restore status quo and instructed the officers to stay put in their offices, while also informing the landlords that the shifting decision stood revoked.
Simultaneously, the Delhi government is trying to ascertain if someone in the Corporation had arrived at an understanding with a private party to get the premises vacated, so that the party could move in and use the area for commercial purposes. Interestingly, one of the largest liquor outlets of the DSIIDC also functions from the premises of the headquarters and is regarded as a big source for its revenue.
Sources said that this is not the first time that Meena has had a run in with the elected Delhi government functionaries. Last year, he had demanded an apology from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for using inappropriate language in the presence of his minister Satyendra Jain. However, as things turned out, Jain was subsequently appointed as the chairman of the Corporation, with the prior approval of the Lieutenant Governor, though it is for the first time that a minister is holding the august office.
The DSIIDC has normally been headed by an IAS officer, who serves both as the chairman and managing director. However, in 1994, during the tenure of Madan Lal Khurana as Chief Minister, Sudershan Sareen, an RSS functionary was appointed as the chairman, thus reversing the convention. In 2002, Sheila Dikshit, the then Chief Minister, followed suit and appointed Hasan Ahmed, a Congress leader as the chairman. After Hasan Ahmed, Satyendra Jain is the first politician to be the chairman.