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Delhi starts reclaiming illegally sold Asola land

A large British-era canvass map, the only physical representation of how land in Asola is distributed that was stored in the sub-divisional magistrate’s office in Saket, was slashed as part of the conspiracy.

delhi Updated: Jan 27, 2018 23:14 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Delhi,Asola village,Asola land scam
A view of the Delhi government’s land at Asola farms in Chattarpur on November 24, 2017. (Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)

The state government has started a massive reclamation drive in south Delhi’s Asola village, where illegal sale of prime gram sabha plots by the land mafia was rampant, senior government officials said.

The drive comes after Hindustan Times had reported last November that 13 government plots, worth over R600 crore and measuring a total of 120 bighas (about 30 acres), had been fraudulently grabbed by private individuals in collusion with local government officials. At least three of these properties in Asola village were then sold at less than one-twentieth of their market rates by people who had no rights over them.

A large British-era canvass map, the only physical representation of how land in Asola is distributed that was stored in the sub-divisional magistrate’s office in Saket, was slashed as part of the conspiracy.

Following the report, the south district administration started mapping all gram sabha land under its jurisdiction. “About 220 bighas of land has been identified. The whole of December, we prepared maps for each of these plots and now the process is complete,” said Amjad Tak, district magistrate (south).

While doing this, the district administration discovered that another 28 bighas had been encroached upon by the followers of a spiritual group. This plot has now been reclaimed by the Delhi government and has been allotted to the education department to build a school, according to a report filed by the south district administration to Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal and revenue minister Kailash Gahlot.

“The work of rectifying the canvass map (Sizra) is almost finalised. After completing this work, it would be of great help in getting a clear picture on encroachment in Asola village,” the report says.

Tak said that the process of taking possession of the rest of the land, including the plots that HT had written about, would begin after Republic Day.

“There are only those 13 cases where land was transferred by fudging government records. All other cases are primarily that of encroachment,” he said.

The scam was discovered when the government’s annual survey of property in 2016 revealed that plot (Khasra) number 1354 — a 2-acre land in Asola worth over Rs 40 crore — was transferred and sold for just Rs 2 crore the previous year.

The Khatauni (the government record showing the land’s original owner) of the plot showed the land was transferred to one Mahesh under court order 144/RA/85 in December 1986. When officials checked the records, Mahesh was mentioned as the owner only since April 2015. The records prior to 2015 showed that the land belonged to the gram sabha.

The government gave the people mentioned in the records a chance to show proof of ownership, but no come forward, officials said.

Delhi’s biggest land scam?
An annual survey in 2016 found at least 13 cases in which officials fudged land records to illegally transfer Gram Sabha land in Asola worth Rs 600 crore
How the fraud was done
*Khatauni: Paper where land ownership is recorded
**Khasra Girdawari: Register of harvest inspections and a supporting document of land ownership
What action is being taken
The CBI asked to investigate the matter Divisional commissioner has ordered checking other land records Fresh action taken report on all 13 plots to be submitted to the L-G this week South district administration has filed an appeal in the civil court to cancel sale of land in Khasra 1354. (When the fraud was detected, the land had already been sold)
How the scam was unearthed
In early 2016, Asola’s Khatauni records were checked for computerisation of land records in DelhiIn the record for 10 bighas (approx. 2 acres) land at Khasra 1354, a dubious entry made in a different ink was spottedThe entry read that the plot was owned by one Mahesh, s/o Shankar since December 1986 under order 144/RA/85Officials check the ownership of the same plot in Girdawari records to verify the fictitious entryThey find that until October 2015, when the entry was made, land was owned by the Delhi governmentDivisional commissioner directs additional district magistrate to conduct an inquiry into the matterThe inquiry finds that order 144/RA/85, on the basis of which Mahesh claimed the land, does not existMahesh sold the land for Rs 1.42 crore (instead of the minimum selling price of Rs 6.96 crore) to one Raman MehraMehra sold it to a Dwarka-based property dealer and applied for mutation (transfer of ownership)The mutation was cancelled. The Patwari and Kanungo were suspended. Govt. reclaims land on the KhatauniAdditional district magistrate completes inquiry on June 16, 2016, and submitted report to divisional commissionerOver the past nine months, a government investigation found 12 other cases of fraudulent land transfersPolice registered an FIR in case of Mahesh on April 10, 2017. Nobody arrested to date. The case registered only under IPC section 420 (cheating)On May 9, the local SDM again wrote to the police for invoking stringent section under Prevention of Corruption Act. Police yet to add section to the FIR.

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 23:14 IST