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Telangana land scam: Google, Microsoft, domestic companies affected by unclear land titles

Investors are now acquiring land only from the government or corporate houses, as these have clear titles.

Major global companies like Google and Microsoft are unsure about the value of their real estate holdings in Hyderabad, after the Telangana government initiated several legal cases questioning the ownership and transfer of land holdings, in what is alleged to be a scam worth Rs 15,000 crore, reported The Economic Times on Monday.

After Opposition pressure, the Telangana government had announced termination of suspicious land registrations in the city. Investors who are now affected by unclear land titles in Hyderabad include Google, Microsoft, Tishman Speyer, Shapoorji Pallonji, DLF, Lanco, Puravankara, Sattva Salarpuria and My Home group.

“It’s time for the government to rethink and examine all the existing procedures and make clear titled land banks available for investors,” said Veera Babu, managing director of commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield. Bijay Agarwal, MD, Salarpuria Sattva Group, said that investors were now acquiring land only from government or corporate houses, as these have clear titles.

In the latest land scam, the accused colluded with land registration officials to acquire hundreds of acres of contentious land in Hyderabad’s Miyapur and some other localities. Moreover, senior leaders in the Telangana Rashtra Samiti are accused in the scam. PS Prasad, former attorney of Shapoorji Pallonji group’s Cyrus Investments, helped the group get certain title clearances. TRS secretary general K Keshava Rao, whose family acquired contentious land from Prasad’s business entities, last week announced they were pulling out of the deal after sustained Opposition pressure.

The TRS government last week issued an ordinance cancelling certain powers of officials of the land registration department. But the Opposition Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Telugu Desam Party allege that government lands worth at least Rs 1 lakh crore in Hyderabad were encroached upon during the three years of TRS rule. Telangana IT and industries minister KT Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, said the government was willing to reach out to investors to assuage their concerns.

But the latest land scam could affect the investment flowing into the Telangana market in the short term, a global property consultant said. Hyderabad’s real estate market has been on an upswing since 2014, but this could now change due to the land scam.

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