Despite a written order issued by the deputy commissioner to get evacuated 17 malras of village pond at Mashiana village in Rurka Kalan Block, which was encroached by a panchayat member, the district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) concerned has failed to take action.
In 2007, a panchayat member, Buta Ram, along with other villagers - Tawinder Pal, Joginder Pal and Surjit Kaur - encroached the land of pond in alleged connivance with the sarpanch and constructed the boundary wall around the land.
On the complaint of villagers in 2008, an inquiry was conducted by the DDPO, which revealed that the land was encroached by Buta Ram and his accomplices before issuing notices to all encroachers for removing unauthorised construction.
The encroachers refused to accept the notices and instead Buta Ram applied for a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the DDPO for contesting the panchayat election. The official concerned issued the NOC despite the fact that notices were issued against Ram, former sarpanch Kuldip Samra told HT. "In spite of the objection raised by me, Buta Ram was issued NOC by the returning office and he was re-elected as member of panchayat," Samra said, adding that he brought the issue of encroachment to the notice of the then deputy commissioner Ajit Singh Pannu during a sangat darshan programme of the chief minister in the area in 2008.
After probing the issue, the DC ordered registration of a case against the offenders and the newly-formed panchayat resolved to take action against encroachers, Samra added.
After no action was taken by the authorities against the encroacher, a panchayat member, Kulwinder Singh, lodged a complaint with the DC in October 2010. The DC marked an inquiry to DDPO Sarabjit Singh Walia, who handed over the probe to block development and panchayat officer (BDPO).
The BDPO, in his report, mentioned that there is an encroachment on the panchayat land and named sarpanch Kulwinder Kaur for not only sheltering the encroachers but also facilitating them in getting electricity and water connections to the construction on the encroached land. A copy of the BDPO's report is with HT.
The BDPO recommended that a case under the Village Common Land Act, 1964, should be registered against the suspects, including sarpanch.
On the basis of the report, the DC wrote to the deputy director, department of panchayat, to take action against encroachers and marked a copy to the DDPO. Accordingly, the deputy director issued notices to the suspects, but to no avail, as officials concerned again failed to take action, Samra said.
"Connivance of the DDPO with the encroachers could be gauged from the fact when I recently met him on the issue, he expressed his helplessness, citing a high court order of not removing encroachment from panchayat land," Samra said.
Showing a copy of the order of the apex court, which ruled that land recorded as a pond must not be allotted to anybody for construction of a house or any other purpose, Samra said, "How can the high court supersede the verdict of the apex court by allowing encroachment on panchayat land?"
DDPO Sarabjit Singh Walia expressed ignorance on the issue and said he will have to go through the files before making a comment. "I am not aware of any encroachment or notices issued to the encroachers and will get back to you only after verifying the record," he said.