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    Sibal orders probe into disinvestment of VSNL

    New Delhi: A beleaguered UPA is now raking up dirt on the NDA and opening up a new front to target the Opposition.Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has questioned the disinvestment of VSNL which took place during the NDA regime. Sibal has ordered a probe into the delay of demerging surplus land of 773 acres. The NDA government under Atal Behari Vajpayee had sold a 25 percent stake in the long distance telecom carrier. Arun Shourie was the disinvestment minister at the time.The UPA's move comes even as sources close to the Tata group said the proposed demerger of surplus land was stuck due to the Centre dragging its feet on the three options to separate the company's real estate assets. Sibal has set up a committee under the telecom additional secretary and ordered it to submit a report on the issue by the month-end.In a note to the telecom secretary, Sibal said,” The strategic partner has enjoyed the precious government land without paying a single rupee for it. The way the issue of demerger of 773.13 acre of surplus land of VSNL was handled in 2002 and thereafter, not only the interest of investors...but also (that of) government seems to have been adversely affected.”The Tata group has denied any involvement in the wrongdoing."Tata Communications welcomes any Governemnt process that hopefully will expedite the demerger of surplus land which we have repeatedly requested.. We categorically deny Tata Communications or Tata group has benefited."Meanwhile, hitting back at Sibal, Shourie has said that the Government is planting stories."It's strange what the minister is saying. The facts have been peverted. What has the government been doing for the past six years? We know from where these planted stories are coming from," said former telecom minister Arun shourie."I will be happy that there is an inquiry to be done. These are all planted reports. The laws in the deal were stringent and clauses were very strict. If those laws are broken it has to be looked into," he added.