Land forgery case referred to CBI; CM Rawat

In tune with his pledge to embark on an all-out crusade against corruption, the chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has on Saturday referred the case of the alleged fraudulent land acquisition for four-laning of the National Highway 74 in Udham Singh Nagar district to the  Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)  while    suspending six serving PCS officers and vowing to  book  a retired PCS  for their alleged involvement  in  land acquisition irregularities.

He also made it clear that all the accused, no matter how powerful they were, would have to face the consequences following the completion of the probe.   “Prima facie, it seems that the fraud was conducted in a professional and an organised manner in cahoots with a powerful syndicate that operated comprising powerful persons from many departments. The magnitude of the scam  thus warrant a CBI probe. The case being handed over the premier central investigating agency, the ongoing police and SIT probe are being closed with immediate effect.  Whatever they have found through their investigation so far will be handed over to CBI,” CM said while addressing a media conference after having a meeting with the senior government officials at the secretariat on Saturday.

Importantly, the CM convened the meeting with the officials on Saturday-the day   the secretariat is  normally closed, a fact that  reveals the seriousness with which the new state government is working to root out corruption from the state.

CM said that as per the investigation conducted by the Kumaon commissioner, the scam is worth Rs 240 crore.  “The reach of the probe seems to be very vast, given  several departments, including National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), being embroiled in it,” he said.

“Regarding the four lane road involving a national highway stretching  through Udham Singh Nagar, a section of the officials   changed the land use  to help some grab  compensation  25 times higher than the normal ones.  While the lands acquired were mostly agricultural lands they were officially shown as non- agricultural lands as part of the gigantic fraud. Interestingly, things being  conducted through the syndicate, the real farmers, who owned the lands, are yet to get compensation against the acquisition of their  lands,”  CM said.

He further said that to pre-empt the accused from  tampering with  the evidences, they had decided to suspend all the accused officers posted then  in four tehsils-Jaspur, Kashipur, Bajpur and Sitarganj. “As of now, 18 parts of the huge scam have surfaced. Many more would be unburied in the coming days.   Several departments like Tehsil, SDM, land consolidation department, land identification and NHAI seem to be involved.   While we have suspended six officers action would be taken against Himalay Singh Martolia who has recently  retired.  The six officers who have faced the action are  Dinesh PRatap Singh, land certification officer, Anil Kumar Shukla, special land certification officer and four SDMs- SS Jangpangi, Jagdish Lal, Bhagat Singh Fonia and NS Naganyal,”  Rawat said.

Interestingly, as per the 3A notification, the department did not receive even a single objection against the land acquisition. As per 3D notification, compensation was paid for the acquired lands at the rate meant for non- agricultural land despite the papers mentioning the acquired land as agricultural land.

In 2011, the land was shown as non- agricultural land while the computer records showed the same.     However, earlier,  the  land was shown as agricultural land  with records showing crops being  grown over the lands.

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