Land acquisition officers (LAOs) and tehsildars of Kalka and Panchkula tehsils rushed while deciding shamlat (common) land claims to later distribute compensation worth over `300 crore to private individuals in violation of rules, the HT has learnt.
The matter is now being probed as after the Panchkula administrator of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), Sanjiv Verma, raised an alarm over the `346-crore fraud and deputy commissioner Vivek Atray ordered an inquiry.
It has emerged that the land acquisition officer and tehsildars of Kalka and Panchkula decided the shares of compensation without the collector's order in violation of Section 13 A of the Punjab Village Common Land Act, which vests in the latter the authority to decide on claims pertaining to right or title of a shamlat land.
Also, as per Rule 71 of the Punjab Land Revenue Rules, the "list of co-sharers shall not be prepared and supplied without the previous sanction of the collector unless required in connection with a revenue civil or criminal case".
Usually, the process takes time as shareholders need to be issued notices and record of consolidation of village has to be taken into account.
Just 2 days were enough
Sources have told HT that on August 24, 2009, the LAO without an authority wrote to tehsildar Kalka for dividing the share of claimants in the shamlat land in Surajpur village. Just after 2 days, on August 29, 2009, the tehsildar divided the shares and the LAO then wrote to HUDA, which deposited the award money.
On July 23, 2009, the LAO wrote a letter to tehsildar for dividing the share in shamlat land in Rajjipur village. Within 6 days, on July 29, 2009, the tehsildar fixed the share.
In case of Saketri village in Panchkula, the LAO wrote to the tehsildar on September 23, 2007, and the latter fixed the claim on November 25, 2007.
The orders, accessed by HT are not signed, but only forwarding letters of tehsildars are attached. Moreover, the unit of land which a claimant had got has also not been mentioned.
Another letter dated April 7, 1998, pertains to Nada village, where Panchkula tehsildar wrote to the district's deputy commissioner after affixing the shares in shamlat land without any unit of land measurement. However, it is not clear on what grounds the tehsildar fixed the share.
"It is a big fraud. The LAOs have no right to ask tehsildars to divide the share in shamlat land. Also, the shares could only be distributed by the collector through a court order, so tehsildars dividing the share is also wrong," the incumbent LAO Panchkula, Captain Vinod Sharma, told HT.
"Then, even if we have to decide the share, it is a long process which goes from issuing notices to panchayat and then looking at the record when the village was set up," he added.
Significantly, in a communication to director general, urban estates, HUDA's Panchkula administrator Sanjiv Verma has indicated a scam of over `300 crore in respect of payment of compensation for the acquired shamlat land from 1998 to 2013 in Nada, Maheshpur, Chowki, Saketri, Rampur Siyudi, Rajjipur, Surajpur, Manakpur, Nanakchand, Manakpur Thakurdas, Lohgarh, Dhamala, Firojpur, Rattpur, Islamnagar, Bhagwanpur and Nangal Sodian villages of the district.
The alleged fraud came to light when Verma was going through 80 applications for allotment of plots under the oustees' policy against shamlat land, which are pending.
Another dimension of the alleged fraud is the enhancement in land compensation in the court which expanded the racket from `346 crore to around `1,500 crore, sources said.