Hydropower company in dock for ‘usurping’ tribals’ land in Himachal
The administration in tribal Bharmour sub-division of Chamba district has launched a probe into the 36 bighas of tribal land ‘fraudulently’ transferred in the name of a private hydro-power company in revenue record.
The company, GMR Group, which is executing 180 megawatt Holi-Bajoli power project in the area, has reportedly also raised a loan of ₹1,405 crore from the banks by mortgaging the land.
It is worth mentioning that being a tribal area, no one from outside the state can purchase land in Bharmour sub-division. The land can be, however, leased out for various purposes.
Villagers had leased out their land to the company.
Additional district magistrate (ADM), Bharmour, Vinay Dhiman said that the revenue records related to the land has been taken into custody and will be sent to higher authorities. “Probe is being conducted and we have also interrogated the company officials,” said Dhiman.
The land fraud came to fore when some residents of Holi village went to banks to raise loan by mortgaging their land. However, there they learnt that the land was registered in the name of GMR Company and that the company had already raised a loan in 2012 by mortgaging the land.
A local resident and National Secretary of National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) Surjeet Bharmouri who is vigorously taking up the issue with the authorities alleged that a total 226 families of over half a dozen villages have become victim of the fraud done by the hydro-power company.
He also suspects connivance of revenue official and some influential political leaders of the area in the entire episode in the scam. “I have also submitted a complaint to the National Commission for Schedule Tribe (NCST) and hearing in the matter is slated for April 27. Besides, a team of NCST will likely visit the area to probe into the matter,” said Bharmouri.
The student leader said that he had also sent a copy of the complaint to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“PMO has also taken note of the complaint and has sought me to submit whatever documentary evidences of the scam I have,” he said. Meanwhile, general manager of the GMR at Holi-Bajoli project Vijay Sain has refuted the allegation of company’s involvement terming it a mistake of revenue department. He said that the company will submit an appropriate reply to the administration on the issue.