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Posted at: Jun 19, 2015, 12:38 AM; last updated: Jun 18, 2015, 11:28 PM (IST)TRANSFER OF FOUR KANAL FOREST LAND IN NAME OF PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL

Revenue record tampered with in Triund: Probe

Revenue record tampered with in Triund: Probe

It is being suspected that the land mafia is tampering with old revenue record in connivance with revenue officials.

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, June 18

There has been tampering of revenue record in a case of transfer of 4 kanal forest land at Triund in the name of a private individual. Ritesh Chauhan, who had recently taken charge as Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, said a preliminary inquiry indicated that there had been tampering of revenue record in the case.

A further inquiry had been ordered and facts in the case would be brought to the fore, he said. The case also indicated that a land mafia was operating in the district that was getting forest land converted in its name by tampering with old revenue record allegedly in connivance with revenue officials.

Though an inquiry had been ordered in one case, the other cases mentioned in a news report in these columns had not been touched. It was reported in these columns on June 15 that the nature of forest land was being changed in some parts of the district and transferred in the name of individuals.

One such case came to the fore when a resident of Dharamkot in the recent past applied to the Forest Department to demarcate 4 kanal land at Triund owned by him. Triund is a world-famous trekking site about 10 kilometres from McLeodganj.

As per revenue papers, it was a demarcated forest area spread across over 800 hectares. When forest officials received an application for demarcation from the Dharamkot resident, they were surprised how forest land was converted into private land in the name of an individual.

A scrutiny of revenue papers revealed that revenue officials changed the nature of land in 1995. The nature of land was changed from forest to ‘banjar kadeem’ (barren agricultural land).

Initially, the owner of the land was the state government. However, later, it was transferred in the name of a private individual. Though the nature of land was changed in 1995, its mutation was entered in 2008 by revenue officials.

The applicant who had moved application for demarcation had maintained that the DFO of Dharamsala had in 1995 recommended that the land be transferred in his name. However, forest officials had not found any such recommendation in the record. They had refused to demarcate the land.

Sources said in the recent past, some forest land in the Himani Chamunda area, where the state government was to bring up a ropeway, was also converted from forest land to barren land and then transferred in the names of individuals.

In the Ranital area, a large tract of forest land was changed in nature to barren land. The land was now being flattened for commercial use. The Forest Department initially challenged the change in nature of land in a lower court. However, after losing in court, the department did not appeal in the higher court despite the advice of senior officials. In Takipur, a piece of forest land was converted into barren land and then transferred in the name of the Department of Tourism. Now, a commercial complex had been built on the land that had been lying unused. Forest officials said on the condition of anonymity that changing the nature of forest land was a very serious offence keeping in view the fact that the Supreme Court has banned any such activity without the approval of the special empowered committee.

They said it was also a serious offence because once the nature of forest land was changed, it was lost forever and could not be used for forestry purposes.

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