Alleged attempts to allot government land earmarked for a community centre to private persons in violation of Supreme Court orders

A case of criminal conspiracy and cheating was registered on Tuesday against IAS officer V. N. Vishnu and 11 others over alleged attempts to allot government land earmarked for a community centre to private persons in violation of Supreme Court orders.

The Crime Investigation Department (CID) issued a First Information Report naming Mr. Vishnu, four employees of Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority and seven private persons. Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (using a forged document as genuine) of Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act were invoked against them.

The complaint was lodged by VUDA Vice-Chairman Y. Yuvaraj with the CID based on the report presented by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which earlier investigated into allegations of fraudulent allotment of plots to some persons. According to the FIR, 4,114 square yards of land in survey nos. 5P and 6P at Peda Waltair near Muvvalavanipalem VUDA layout was earmarked for a community centre.

Auction

In 2001, VUDA divided this land into 21 plots which were subsequently auctioned by fixing an upset price of Rs. 3,500 per square yard. Meanwhile, Sri Balaji Park Residents Welfare Association challenged the auction and the allotment of plots in the High Court which declared the decision of VUDA illegal. The High Court ordered that the successful bidders may be either provided with alternative plots or the amounts collected from them be refunded with simple interest.

VUDA moved the Supreme Court challenging the High Court’s verdict.

But the apex court upheld the judgement of the High Court in 2009. The FIR stated that instead of complying with the Supreme Court direction, the then VUDA Vice-Chairman V.N. Vishnu, Estate Officer A. Jagadeesh and three other VUDA employees hatched a criminal conspiracy with private persons to misappropriate the government land.

The government officials allegedly created a representation in the name of Sri Balaji Park Welfare Residents Association stating that 1,000 of the 4,114 square yards, of land be given to the library building and the remaining be allotted to persons deprived of plots due to the High Court verdict.

Though the prevailing government rate in 2009 was around Rs. 20,000 per square yard, VUDA authorities allotted six plots to the private persons at the rate of Rs. 3,500 per square yard. One of the plots allotted in the name of D. Sreelakshmi was transferred unauthorised to Ch. Jagadeeshwaruud without any sale agreement.

Plan approved

Mr. Vishnu, who became Greater Visakhapantam Municipal Corporation Commissioner in 2011, approved plans for construction of apartment buildings in the plot nos. 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. The allotment of plots at the rate of Rs. 3,500 per square yard had caused the VUDA an estimated loss of Rs. 5.23 crore, the FIR said.

The role of GVMC employees and members of the corporation’s technical committee, who cleared the building plans in the said plots, is also being probed. Mr. Vishnu is currently working as Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of State Warehousing Corporation.

Keywords: land row