UP lokayukta unearths multi-crore land scam
Uttar Pradesh lokayukta, justice (retd) NK Mehrotra, on Tuesday blew the lid off a multi-crore land scam and wrote to district magistrates (DMs) of seven districts, asking for reports on allotment of land in dubious deals in their areas.
A preliminary investigation by the lokayukta’s office detected a nexus between district officers and real estate developers in Lucknow, Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Agra, Mathura and Barabanki districts.
“I received a complaint of violation of revenue rules in Mathura,” said the lokayukta. “On inspection I found that in 2008, the then sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) had changed the land-use of five hectares of land from agricultural to inhabited to allot it to a builder to construct flats.”
The lokayukta’s office found this to be the common pattern: officers changed the land-use from inhabited to agricultural and vice-versa to suit builders’ needs.
According to rules, it is the responsibility of the Board of Revenue to see that land records are properly maintained, something that has not been done in most districts. Mehrotra said “corrupt officers and builders took benefit of this loophole to make money”.
The lokayukta also found irregularities worth crores in stamp duty. “I have directed the DMs to make an estimate of the theft of stamp duty in their respective districts,” said Mehrotra.
According to an initial report sent by the Ghaziabad DM, two SDMs changed the land-use in eight plots of land to suit builders.
“I have told the DM to initiate action against the erring SDMs,” Mehrotra said, adding, “Had the senior officers taken cognisance of such blatant acts of the SDMs, they might have checked the dishonest officers from bleeding the state exchequer.”
Several additional district magistrates, SDMs, tehsildars and lekhpals are in the lokayukta’s net. He has also served notice to some builders.