Anti-encroachment task force chief’s name figures in panchayat land scam : The Tribune India

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Anti-encroachment task force chief’s name figures in panchayat land scam

Anti-encroachment task force chief’s name figures in panchayat land scam

Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats. File photo



Tribune News Service

Vishav Bharti

Chandigarh, July 18

A government inquiry report has exposed that the chief of the anti-encroachment task force had “gifted” a portion of prime panchayat land to a private developer in Amritsar.

The matter pertains to Bhagtupura village in Amritsar district, where 42 kanal and 16 marla of prime panchayat land was given to Alpha International City Colony at throwaway prices.

Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal had exposed the scam last month at a press conference in Amritsar.

Developer didn’t pay for 9 kanal

  • Jagwinderjit Sandhu was handpicked by Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal as the chief of the anti-encroachment task force
  • In 2021, he had ‘facilitated’ a private developer to grab around nine kanal in Amritsar district without paying a single rupee; the land was worth Rs 51.11 lakh
  • The VB is inquiring into his role in the sale of 152 acres of panchayat land in Fatehgarh Sahib to private individuals

Subsequently, he had constituted a three-member inquiry committee led by Amit Kumar, Joint Development Commissioner, Rural Development and Panchayats.

The inquiry report has revealed that Jagwinderjit Singh Sandhu, handpicked by Dhaliwal as the task force chief, had in 2021 facilitated the developer to grab around nine kanal worth Rs 51.11 lakh without paying a single rupee.

The inquiry report said the gram panchayat could not charge money for 8 kanal 14 marla. It was so because Sandhu, then the Deputy Director of the Rural Development and Panchayats Department’s Jalandhar division, in his report dated July 9, 2021, had stated that a road (revenue path) passing through Bhagtupura village was a common path used by villagers and that it led to the next village Sultanwind. As a result, it could not be sold, Sandhu had stated in his report.

The inquiry report, however, noted that the land, shown as a common path leading to Sultanwind village, was exclusively used by the private township. It did not connect to Sultanwind village.

Put simply, the private developer did not pay for nine kanal out of 42 kanal that it got for the township.

The Amritsar DC, in his recent report (which is part of the inquiry), has also rubbished Sandhu’s claim and said the revenue path ended inside the township only.

It is not for the first time that Sandhu’s conduct has come under the scanner.

The Vigilance Bureau (VB) is inquiring into his role in the sale of 152 acres of panchayat land at Fatehgarh Sahib’s Baronga Jer village to private individuals. He was posted as the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) in Fatehgarh Sahib then.

Sandhu was accused of facilitating land grab by passing a wrong order. He had pronounced the decision in favour of the panchayat, but the written order was in favour of private individuals. On June 10, the VB had seized the record related to the case. Neither Sandhu nor Seema Jain, Financial Commissioner, Rural Development and Panchayats, could be contacted in spite of repeated attempts.

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