Land use changed, two farmers got over Rs 2 cr in compensation
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Land use changed, two farmers got over Rs 2 cr in compensation

dehradun Updated: Jun 04, 2017 20:40 IST
Abhinav Madhwal
Abhinav Madhwal
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,National Highway-74,land scam

Homes being demolished for widening of the National Highway-74 at Rudrapur in US Nagar district. (HT Photo)

RUDRAPUR: The National Highway-74 land scam hit the national headlines after Union minister Nitin Gadkari wrote to chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat objecting his recommendation for a CBI probe.

Land sharks and a section of administrative officials are alleged to have purchased agricultural land from farmers, converted its land use into ‘commercial’ under Section 143 of the Land Act before the acquisition by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The compensation paid to the beneficiaries for commercial land is almost 10 times higher than agricultural land.

Now, a case has come to light which apparently highlights irregularities in doling out compensations to some farmers whose lands were acquired for widening the two-lane NH-74 to four lanes from Jaspur to Sitarganj.

In July 13, 2015, Mohnish Kumar of village Barilai at Udham Singh Nagar’s district Gadarpur had submitted a complaint to the then district magistrate Pankaj Pandey alleging conversion of land usage for larger compensation.

Kumar, a Congress worker, alleged that brothers Karnail and Jarnail Singh from his village, whom he dubbed as “resourceful farmers”, had got compensation worth over Rs 2 crore by getting land use from agricultural to commercial of a portion of their plot. If the land was listed under agricultural category, he alleged, the compensation would be Rs 20-25 lakh. The rate was fixed at Rs 4 crore per hectare for commercial land while doling out compensation

Highlighting this ‘irregularity’, Kumar drew the administration’s notice to the complicity of some revenue officials who had changed the land use category for benefitting the two farmers in order to purpotedly take hefty ‘cuts’. Kumar alleged that the officials lured the two farmers by saying that they would get them compensation at commercial rates, if they gave them cuts ranging from 25-50% of the deal.

Subsequently, Pandey ordered a probe which found irregularties by land registrar Qanungo Charu Chandra Tiwari and revenue inspector Raghuvir Singh. Following this inquiry, the case was reported while making adverse entry in their service book. Pay hike of the two officials was froze for two years.

This reporter visited the site of Karnail Singh’s land near a bypass and found it was totally an agricultural area with fields.

But Karnail Singh’s son Jasbir told Hindustan Times claimed that the entire issue was “politically motivated”. “We left the Congress to join the BJP due to which we are being victimized by the Congress leaders.” Jasbir asserted the due process was followed in the compensation process. If there was any irregularity, then the revenue officials were at fault and not them, he said. “We have just been given compensation that is given for agricultural land.”

Similarly, Manendra Singh of Jaspur and Manga Singh of Bara, US Nagar, who filed a petition in the high court in December 2016, said they had pointed out to many cases in Jaspur where farmers were given compensation at commercial rates though their lands were agricultural.

Finance minister Prakash refuted the allegations of Congress which had blamed the state government of trying to hush up the investigations. “The irregularities took place during the tenure of the Congress government and they are pointing fingers at us,” he said, adding that the state government had sent a letter to the Centre recommending a CBI enquiry. “No one is being shielded and the guilty will be brought to book as the government is committed to transparency and zero tolerance to corruption.” He also said that the transfer of Kumaon Commissioner D Senthil Pandiyan was not related to this matter.

A source at the Galfar Company, which is constructing the national highway from Kashipur to Sitargnj, said work was 80% complete and the rest was held up due to compensation related issues. “The project should have been completed by August 2016, but there were delays due to problem related to handing over of land.”

First Published: Jun 04, 2017 20:39 IST