Global technology giants Google, Microsoft have become the victims of the largest realty scam currently unfolding in Telangana, India. These two biggies are amongst the numerous global and domestic companies in Hyderabad that have been left busy evaluating the value of their real estate holdings after the Telangana government rolled out legal cases to investigate the legitimacy of the ownership of real estate holdings, both government and private that were auctioned in the recent past.
The investigations have unfolded the largest land scam in Telangana worth at least Rs 15,000 crore and has left investors in a state of panic and dismay. The situation worsened further when the Telangana government pressurised by the opposition hue and cry decided to terminate suspicious land registrations.
Investors who have been left holding the dismantled rug courtesy messy land titles in the Hyderabad city include DLF, Tishman Speyer, Shapoorji Pallonji, Lanco, Puravankara, Sattva Salarpuria, My Home group, besides Google and Microsoft. In fact, the situation is so uncertain in the city right now that even procuring land from the government comes with no sure shot guarantee.
The recent land scam took wings as the accused decided to side with land registration officials and corner hundreds of acres of contentious land worth thousands of crores in Hyderabad’s Miyapur and a few other lucrative areas.
Over the years, Hyderabad property market has earned a bad name for itself for having numerous fake titles in the city. But the tide was recently turning and the market was on its way to recovery. The latest land scam hit has once again clipped off the market’s wings and it will take more time for the city to be at the same level as other metros. As of today, Hyderabad is said to have the third-lowest vacancy level among all metros in the country at 9%, behind Bengaluru at 4% and Pune at 5%, according to JLL India.
The scam is expected to have a short term affect on investments in Telangana as investors will be vary of investing in a market with so much uncertainty. Speaking to Economic Times, Shrinivas Rao, chief executive officer (Asia Pacific) of global property consultant Vestian Global Work Place Services said “This would certainly affect the investment flowing into the (Telangana) market in the short term. The land scam has dealt a blow to this upswing and will create uncertainties in the minds of investors, buyers and occupiers alike.”
PS Prasad, former attorney of Shapoorji Pallonji group’s Cyrus Investments, who helped the group get certain title clearances out of thousands of acres of properties that the group had bought from the Hyderabad Nizams in 1967, has now been accused of a fresh bout of land scams by the Telangana government. This has led to a big question mark on the present and the future of those deals materialised by Prasad for the group before.
Three year ago in 2014, Cyrus Investments ended up revoking the power of attorney issued in favour of Prasad of Goldstone group and accused him of selling their land assets by fraudulent means. This was just weeks before Telangana was born.
The land scam is proving to be a major embarrassment for the ruling party as some key members of the party are said to be in on the crime. Last week, the TRS government decided to issue an ordinance to cancel certain discretionary powers of officials of the land registration department in the light of accusations that certain land registration officials were part of the scam.
Things are not particularly looking jaunty for the TRS government as the opposition has accused them of encroaching lands worth at least Rs 1 lakh crore in Hyderabad during the past three years that they have been in power. The opposition, which compromises of Congress, Telugu Desam and BJP, has also accused the government of facilitating offenders by not doing enough to retrieve such land.