Friday, January 18, 2013

Jhamat land scam: Eviction cases filed against encroachers

Anshu Seth, Hindustan Times
Ludhiana , January 16, 2013

An inquiry conducted by Ludhiana deputy commissioner Rahul Tewari into the pond encroachment at Jhamat village part of the Rs. 200-crore land scam - has found 11 persons guilty of constructing houses on the pond land. Block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) Ranjit Singh has filed eviction cases against Gurcharan Singh, Tarishan Singh, Shamsher Singh, Harbans Kaur former sarpanch Sukhpal Singh's wife Ishar Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Balbir Singh, Shamsher Singh, Sukhpal Singh, Major Singh and Kewal Singh.

HT has highlighted the scam in a series of stories, including 'Rural dept fails to act in Jhamat land scam' (October 1, 2012) and 'Whistleblower put in jail, kin allege police atrocity (December 11).

The whistleblowers in the scam, Gurmukh Singh and Gurpal Singh, had filed a writ in the Punjab and Haryana high court against the department of rural development and panchayats, Punjab, Ludhiana DC, district development and panchayat officer (DDPO), BDPO and the Jhamat gram panchayat.

Justice Rajiv Bhalla and justice Rekha Mittal, in their judgment dated July 5, 2012, had ruled in favour of Gurmukh Singh, thereby directing the Ludhiana DC to conduct an inquiry into the matter after associating the complainant as well as the respondents, and to initiate remedial proceedings to retrieve land if the inquiry revealed that land had been encroached upon.

The DC sent a team of the DDPO (Ludhiana) BDPO (Ludhiana-2), the panchayat secretary and the village patwari to trace old records relating to the village and conduct on-the-spot demarcation of the pond. The old records and a map of 1882 showed that the pond area was 2 acres, 1 kanal and 17 marlas. In an order passed in 2002 by then additional deputy commissioner (development), 2 kanal and 8 marlas of land was allotted to the persons found guilty of encroachment.

Meanwhile, DC Rahul Tewari said an appeal against the order of the additional deputy commissioner (development) had been filed in the court of the director, rural development and panchayats, Punjab.

"A case against the encroachers under the Public Premises (eviction of unauthorised occupants) Act, 1971, has been registered in the collector's court. We have also sent a complaint to the director, rural development and panchayats, against the previous panchayat for not taking action to retrieve the panchayati pond," the DC added.

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