Even after the Punjab government notified over 100-acre land for acquisition in 2015 to carve out the Jalandhar-Chintpurni four-lane road on the outskirts of the city, the politically well-connected land sharks bought the notified land at throwaway rates and received the hefty land acquisition compensation, it has emerged.
When the land acquisition process was set into motion, a fear psychosis that the government will pay very less compensation was created among those whose land was to be acquired.
Taking advantage of such a situation, property dealers began buying the notified land at rates as low as Rs 35,000 per marla. On the contrary, the compensation that the government paid was as high as Rs 6.5 lakh per marla in some places.
The land sharks earned huge profits by receiving land acquisition compensation that was much higher than what they paid to original land owners.
As the land acquisition process is still under way, more than 120 sale purchase deeds pertaining to the notified land in Piplanwala and Dangalakalan villages (in outskirts of Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur highway) have taken place during the past six months, according to official documents and Hoshiarpur-based RTI activist Rajiv Vashisht.
“The farmers were unaware about the exact land compensation rates. Influential people spread the word that the government will acquire land at cheap rates. Anticipating loss, the farmers sold land,” says Vashisht, founder chairman of RTI Awareness Forum Punjab.
The scrutiny of documents indicates that the sudden change in the land ownerships did not raise the hackles of authorities, including Hoshiarpur SDM Anand Sagar Sharma -- competent authority to allot compensation.
In some parts of the notified land, the compensation was up to Rs 10 lakh per marla.
For example, 442 marla land was acquired in Khwaspur revenue circle of village Piplanwala. One property dealer, along with ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) councillor Harpinder Singh Gill, who is close to a senior BJP leader, bought notified agricultural land.
The duo started purchasing the notified land on June 23, 2015, a day before the first notification to acquire the land was issued. They purchased land on an average of Rs 52,000 per marla in the names of members of their families, according to official documents.
Ten days after the duo in question purchased the land, it was acquired on April 30, 2016, and the SDM paid Rs 7 lakh per marla compensation, including Rs 3.25 lakh per marla as solatium through ICICI Bank, Sutheri Road, Hoshiapur.
In another case, as per documents, the agricultural land bought recently by Gill and his family was shown as “residential colony” to hike the compensation.
Adjoining to this “residential colony” where nothing exists, except a brick boundary wall, agricultural land in Dagana Kalan village was acquired at a rate of Rs 12,500 per marla.
This has been the modus operandi in other area as well.
A senior Akali Dal leader of Hoshiaprur, Satwinder Pal Singh Datt, purchased notified big plots in the name of his son and wife and pocketed huge compensation.
Datt, when contacted, however, denied these charges and said he has not done anything illegal.
Hoshiarpur market committee chairman Avtar Singh Johal also purchased plots in the name of his son and wife.
As per revenue records, all these purchases were made between February 9, 2016 and April 29, 2016 on an average of Rs 70,000 per marla.
A day after these purchases were made, the SDM made all payments to these leaders on April 30 and the compensation was to the tune of Rs 6.5 lakh per marla.