A scam of over Rs 60 crore has been unearthed in the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) land acquisition office, Panchkula. The case pertains to making excess land compensation in lieu of “shamlat” land (common village land) acquired at Chowki village in Panchkula without the orders of the collector.
HUDA administrator Sanjiv Verma has recommended a vigilance inquiry or registration of a first information report (FIR) and disciplinary action against then land acquisition officer (LAO), Panchkula, MS Sangwan, then naib tehsildar Dhoop Singh, patwari Jaina Ram and section officer Kamal Nayan, who prepared claims by concealing facts of actual payment of award and actual acquired “shamlat” land. He has also recommended a special audit of the LAO office.
Additional chief secretary, town and country planning, P Raghvendra Rao told HT: “The HUDA administrator has recommended for action in the case. I have forwarded the case for an independent inquiry and those found guilty will be taken to the task.”
However, the case is pending before the Haryana chief minister for the past over two months and no recovery has been made.
In 2015 also, Verma had unearthed a scam of `346 crore in the LAO, Panchkula, in the of payment of compensation of acquired “shamlat” land to individuals without any order of the collector under the Village Common Land Act from 1998 to 2013. The state government marked a vigilance inquiry and the investigations are still on.
Following a judgment by the Panchkula additional sessions judge on January 24, 2014, the land compensation was enhanced for farmers in Chowki village. The compensation to two beneficiaries — Harmala Kaur and Rattanmala Kaur — was given on February 13, 2015. But when they moved the Punjab and Haryana high court for enhancing the compensation, it came to light that excess payment was made to them. The court directed Harmala and Rattanmala to deposit the excess payment of Rs 15.86 crore.
Sensing a well-established scam, the HUDA administrator formed a committee comprising chief accounts officer, land acquisition officer and assistant district attorney to look into the case. The panel submitted its report on November 2, 2015.
The HUDA administrator could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
According to the committee report, a copy of which is with HT, excess payment of Rs 60.07 crore for 541 bighas (216 acres) of “shamlat” land was made by then land acquisition officer MS Sangwan. Though Harmala and Rattanmala deposited Rs15.86 crore following the court orders, Rs 51.09 crore is yet to be recovered, including 15% interest as on October 31, 2015.
The committee pointed out serious lapse on the part of the then land acquisition officer, naib tehsildar, patwari and section officer and held them responsible for the scam.