Land bought cheap from farmers and sold to the government for a hefty compensation: That’s how the land scam in Hoshiyarpur — where a highway project is on — allegedly worked. The Parkash Singh Badal government has ordered probe into the matter, but the opposition is not satisfied. The locals allege that it is the leaders of Mr Badal’s party – the Shiromani Akali Dal – who operated the scam with the help of government officials.
A day after the Punjab government constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT), Superintendent of Police (SP) Vigilance Parveen Kanda reached Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) office Hoshiarpur to begin the probe. SP Kanda met SDM Hoshiarpur Barjinder Singh and checked the record pertaining to land acquisition done for the four-laning of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) project of Hoshiarpur-Jalandhar.
The farmers say they were tricked into selling their land at a low price. “Influential people spread rumours that the government is going to pay less. Poor farmers were led into their trap,” said Right to Information activist Tajiv Vashisht.
“They pressurised us, saying we will not get compensation from the government. We asked the local revenue officer, who misguided us,” said Harvinder Singh, one of the farmers who sold his land.
103 acres in Hoshiyarpur were earmarked for the Highway project 6 months ago.
Mr Singh, a resident of Pallanwala village, said he was paid Rs 9 lakh for his land. The man who bought it, a local Akali Dal leader, received Rs 90 lakh from the government as compensation.
Altogether, 103 acres in Hoshiyarpur were earmarked for the Highway project 6 months ago.
As per land records accessed by Mr Vashisht, 120 land sales were registered in the past 6 months in the villages of Piplanwala and Dangalakalan after the notification — a clear violation of rules.
Government officials confirm there has been wrongdoing. Hoshiyarpur Deputy Commissioner Anindita Mitra told NDTV, “After questions were raised over the registrations that took place after the notification of land, we did our investigation but since the matter is with the vigilance, we have handed all records over to them.”
The state government has suspended two revenue officers and the local magistrate. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said he has handed the investigation to the Vigilance Department.
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