Illegal construction of forest land: WWICS senior director accuses Mohali DFO of seeking bribe, officer alleges vendetta

Published on May 30, 2022 01:51 AM IST

DFO alleged that the bribery accusations were a result of vendetta for taking action against the WWICS managing director for the illegal constructions of forest land

WWICS’s senior director Devinder Sandhu and Mohali DFO Guramanpreet Singh levelled allegations and counter-allegations at each other over an FIR filed against the WWICS’ managing director BS Sandhu for illegally levelling forest land. (HT File (Representative photo))
WWICS’s senior director Devinder Sandhu and Mohali DFO Guramanpreet Singh levelled allegations and counter-allegations at each other over an FIR filed against the WWICS’ managing director BS Sandhu for illegally levelling forest land. (HT File (Representative photo))
By, Mohali

High drama was witnessed at Chandigarh Press Club on Sunday as Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS) group’s senior director Devinder Sandhu and district forest officer (DFO), Mohali, Guramanpreet Singh levelled allegations and counter-allegations at each other over an FIR filed against the WWICS’ managing directoe BS Sandhu for illegally levelling forest land to develop farmhouses in city suburbs.

The two held separate press conferences days after Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) teams demolished the entry gates and foundations laid for developing WWICS’ farmhouses in Masol and Karoran villages. While Sandhu levelled extortion allegations on Singh, the latter described the allegations as baseless and accused the former of holding vendetta against him for taking action on the illegal constructions.

Speaking during the press conference, Sandhu said the forest officer approached him on multiple occasions, through various mediums, to demand bribes.

“After I resisted giving bribe, he got a false complaint filed from the forest range officer (RO), Ranjodh Singh, at Nayagaon police station on April 24, 2022, for violations of the Punjab Land Protection Act (PLPA),” he said, adding that he carries a video recorder to an April 30 meeting with the DFO to expose him. No evidence, however, was shown during the press conference.

“Over the next few days, on the directions of conservator of forest Vishal Chauhan, Singh has also asked me to pay 1 crore upfront to them for the farm project. Thereafter 10 lakh on a monthly basis and also 5 lakh for sale of each land parcel/farm was sought,” Sandhu, who maintained that he was in no way violating Section 4 of PLPA as his land was agricultural, alleged.

On May 9, police had booked Col BS Sandhu (retd), the managing director of WWICS, and his aide Tarsem Singh for building illegal farmhouses in Masol village. The FIR was registered under Section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act after they were found levelling forest land illegally to develop farmhouses under the name ‘Fair Heavens’ on around 100 acres.

DFO Singh, in his statement, said the department discovered the violation of sections 4 and 5 of PLPA in Masol village when a complaint regarding the levelling of land and construction of kaccha roads by Fair Heavens gated property. He added that an FIR was registered after the site was inspected and serious violations uncovered.

“All the complaints and the press conference against the officers/officials of the department came after the threats issued by Devinder Sandhu and his accomplice on May 26, when the department took action to restore the illegally levelled forest land by the accused Devinder Sandhu in village Masol and Karoran,” Singh said.

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