GMR in dock for ‘usurping’ tribal land in Himachal, company refutes charges
The land fraud came to the fore when residents of Holi village went to banks to raise loan by mortgaging their land. However, there they learnt that the land was registered in the name of GMR and that the company had already raised a loan in 2012 by mortgaging the land.india Updated: Apr 24, 2017 21:32 IST
The administration of the tribal Bharmour sub-division in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh has launched a probe into the alleged fraudulent transfer of 36 bighas of tribal land in the name of a private hydropower company in revenue records. The company, GMR Group, has refuted the allegations.
GMR, which is executing the 180 megawatt Holi-Bajoli power project in the area, has allegedly also raised a loan of Rs 1,405 crore from banks by mortgaging the land.
Vijay Sain, the general manager of GMR for the Holi-Bajoli project, refuted the allegation of the company’s involvement, terming it a mistake of the revenue department. He said the company will submit an appropriate reply to the administration on the issue.
Being a tribal area, no one from outside the state can purchase land in Bharmour sub-division. The land can, however, be leased out for various purposes.
Villagers had leased out their land to the company.
Bharmour’s additional district magistrate (ADM) Vinay Dhiman said revenue records related to the land have been seized and will be sent to higher authorities.
“A probe is being conducted and we have also interrogated company officials,” said Dhiman.
The land fraud came to the fore when some residents of Holi village went to banks to raise loan by mortgaging their land. However, there they learnt that the land was registered in the name of GMR and that the company had already raised a loan in 2012 by mortgaging the land.
Surjeet Bharmouri, a local resident and national secretary of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), who is taking up the issue with the authorities, alleged that 226 families from over half a dozen villages have become victims of the “fraud” by the hydropower company.
He said they also suspect connivance of revenue officials and influential political leaders in the scam.
“I have submitted a complaint to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) and the hearing in the matter is slated for April 27. Besides, a team from the NCST is likely to visit the area to probe the matter,” said Bharmouri.
The student leader said he has also sent a copy of the complaint to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“The PMO has taken note of the complaint and has asked me to submit whatever documentary evidence of the scam I have,” he said.