The inquiry report pertaining to over Rs 60 crore land compensation scam at the land acquisition office, Panchkula, which acquires land for the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), reveals how erroneously calculation sheets were submitted and compensations in excess by almost double were doled out to seven parties of Chowki village.
As per information, when HUDA administrator Sanjiv Verma detected the anomaly, he sent at least four reminders but to no avail. Finally, he had to form an inquiry committee under chief accounts officer PK Sachdeva and HUDA assistant district attorney Mukesh.
There is another dimension of the scam — it was a shamlat land for which no payment could be made without the orders of the collector concerned under the Village Common Land Act, 1861.
Instead of giving compensation of over Rs 64 crore, over Rs124 crore were given to the land owners. Of the extra compensation given to the land owners, over Rs51 crore are yet to be recovered, though no effort are being made in this regard too.
HUDA’s land acquisition office is not new to the controversies. Earlier in 2015, another scam of over Rs346 crore was also unearthed in the same office, wherein the compensation amount regarding the acquired shamlat land was released without the collector’s approval. Later, the state government had marked a vigilance inquiry and the investigation is still going on.
MAKING OF THE RS 60 CRORE SCAM
According to the inquiry report, as many as 274.96-acres of land in Chowki, Bir Ghaggar and Nada villages was notified under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, in 1998 for setting up Panchkula’s Sector 32. The award money was announced on July 30, 2003, for the area measuring 224.28 acre, which also included the Chowki village land.
There was an inter se dispute between the co-sharers of two-and-half shares in the shamlat land, measuring only 541 bighas and 17 biswas. A lower court in January, 2014, settled the dispute over division and enhanced the land compensation. But the inquiry report pointed out that land acquisition officer (LAO) MS Sangwan estimated their shares in the total shamlat land instead of just 541 bighas and 17 biswas.
“The calculations regarding the enhanced relief were made of the total shares of shamlat deh land and award payments were also shown on the land’s total shares. During submission of the case, it is also certified by the LAO that the possession of the land mentioned in the calculation sheet has been handed over to HUDA and that the claims have been duly checked by then section officer Kamal Nayan,” says the inquiry report.
The report questioned why an appeal against the order of the lower court enhancing compensation was not filed in the high court. “The concerned land owners have been paid the enhanced compensation of more than Rs60 crore for the area still in their possession and not acquired by the government as the facts were concealed by the officials of the LAO,” said the report, adding “…the action of the LAO is totally fraudulent and a clear cut loss to the state exchequer due to which more than Rs 60 crore were paid in excess, which is yet to be recovered along with the interest.” Besides seeking action against Sangwan and Nayan, the inquiry report has also sought action against then naib tehsildar Dhoop Singh and patwari Jaina Ram.