HT Impact: PMO orders probe into Hoshiarpur land scam

  • Ravinder Vasudeva, Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
  • Updated: Jun 24, 2016 11:25 IST
A barren agriculture land that was shown as a residential colony to get higher compensation, in Piplanwala village on the outskirts of Hoshiarpur. (Pardeep Pandit/HT)

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Thursday directed Punjab’s additional chief secretary NS Kalsi to hold a probe into the multi-crore land acquisition scam in Hoshiarpur, exposed by Hindustan Times through a series of reports.

The PMO ordered the probe after RTI activist Rajiv Vashisht submitted a complaint with the PMO, along with clippings of HT reports on the issue.

“I was alerted through an e-mail by the PMO that my complaint has been forwarded to the additional chief secretary Kalsi with the direction to hold the probe and submit a report,” the RTI activist said.

Earlier in the day, taking cognisance of the HT expose on land acquisition scam involving three local Akali leaders, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal also ordered a deputy commissionerled probe into the matter.

Badal, who was in Nakodar for sangat darshan, assured his government will spare none for wrongdoing. “Irrespective of party affiliation, if somebody has done wrong, he won’t be spared. I have entrusted the Hoshiarpur DC to probe the allegations and submit a report at the earliest,” said Badal, rejecting the opposition parties demand for a CBI probe.

Hoshiarpur deputy commissioner Anindita Mitra said she had received the telephonic orders from the office of the CM and would start investigations from Friday.

Hindustan Times in its June 23 issue had highlighted how three local Akali leaders, their kin and property dealers in cahoots with government officials managed to earn more than `100 crore by purchasing land already notified for a road project.

Also read: How Akali leaders, kin, made crores through rumours, clout, nexus

The Akali leaders, Hoshiarpur Market Committee chairman Avtar Singh Johal, SAD councillor Harpinder Gill and district co-operative bank chairman Satwinder Pal Singh Dhatt, and some property dealers purchased the land notified for the four-laning of the road and property rights already transferred to NHAI on November 2, 2015. These leaders later allegedly constructed illegal colonies on these sites and pocketed crores in compensation.

Meanwhile, the Congress demanded a CBI probe into the matter on the lines of a similar scam in Bathinda, while AAP sought a probe by a sitting high court judge.

“This government has put the entire state on sale. Akali landsharks have made `100 crores in Hoshiarpur,” said party spokesperson Sunil Jakhar in Jalandhar, accusing the CM of shielding the Akali leaders by asking the DC to probe the matter and not giving the case to the CBI.

AAP spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira said it was a sheer forgery not only with the Punjab farmers but also with the state exchequer.

Punjab govt orders vigilance probe

Taking cognizance of the media reports, Parkash Badal on Friday ordered a vigilance inquiry to probe the entire matter to get at the bottom of the case.

Disclosing this in Chandigarh on Friday, a spokesperson of the CM’s office said Badal has marked the inquiry to the chief vigilance director to ascertain the facts which led to these alleged irregularities in the acquisition of land.

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