Land grabbing: House panel pulls up Revenue dept

Land grabbing: House panel pulls up Revenue dept for delay in action

4.10 acres encroached forest land is evicted at Boothanahalli minor forest at Anekal range on Saturday. Land encroached by Corporator.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has come down heavily on the Revenue department for dragging its feet on initiating action against land grabbing cases in the state.

The Committee, which held meetings earlier this month, discussed land grabbing at length and found that the government had either failed to approach the court in connection with such cases or that it had been unable to evict the land grabbers in several cases.

Speaking to DH, PAC chairman H K Patil said: "We have now sought explanation from the government as to why cases have not been filed on time. Where there has been eviction, fencing has not been done." He added that in several instances, even after directions for eviction from Supreme Court, no action was initiated by the government.

Land grabbing is more serious than encroachment, Arakalgud MLA AT Ramaswamy, who in the past led a joint House committee to study encroachment of government land, said explaining the difference. 

"Land grabbing happens with forged documents and most often government officials are hand-in-glove. The land grabbers ensure that there are documents to prove their ownership over the government land. In case of encroachment, there are no documents and is often done by those who need shelter. The rich and the influential get away with the law, while the poor pay for it," he said. Ramaswamy is also a member of the PAC. 

Based on the PAC observations, the Revenue department has issued a circular asking all deputy commissioners to furnish information within a fortnight, on the complaints received with regard to land grabbed on the basis of forged documents. "Any official found to be hand-in-glove with land grabbers in forgery, will be suspended with immediate effect," the circular stated.

Directions have also been given to officials to take proactive interest in approaching the court to get cases resolved and to ensure fencing where land has been reclaimed by the government.

According to officials in the Revenue department, at present the department did not have exclusive data pertaining to land grabbing and it would take time to compile such data.