Santosh Patnaik

Nexus alleged between land sharks, police officers

VUDA sites are costing between Rs.15,000 and Rs.20,000 per square yard depending on locationThe number of bogus and multiple registrations are on the riseCommissioner warns of stringent action against police personnel if any specific instance of their involvement is found

VISAKHAPATNAM: Grabbing a piece of Government or private land or engaging professional gangs for settlement of land-related disputes in and around Visakhapatnam is part of mafia culture which is slowly gaining momentum in this part of the State.

Enquiries revealed that the incidence of multiple registration of sites and houses and transaction of immovable properties with fake documents/fictitious survey numbers have gone up as a fallout of mafia culture.

Precisely due to fear over mafia culture gaining its foothold in the city, then District Collector Praveen Prakash, had introduced `May I Help You' counter at the eSeva centre near the Ramakrishna beach here to provide information to prospective buyers on the genuineness of title deeds, link and registration documents and encumbrance certificates.

The land rates have touched the roof. Only the rich can afford to buy a site in the city. In developed areas like Seethammadhara, MVP Colony, Lawson's Bay, Kirlampudi layout, Pandurangapuram Colony, Nowroji road and Akkayyapalem, VUDA sites are costing somewhere between Rs.15,000 and Rs.20,000 per square yard depending on location. In Madhurawada and Rushikonda, where lot of growth is projected in the coming years, square yard cost in VUDA layouts is in the range of Rs.5,000 to Rs.10,000.

CP's caution

Commissioner of Police V.S.K. Kaumudi admits that Vizag is no longer a sleepy place. "As there is more and more pressure on land, number of bogus and multiple registrations are on the rise. The number of injunctions on land disputes is phenomenally high.

One disturbing trend, police also admit, is the alleged nexus between the land sharks and a section of police officers. "In most cases, settlement gangs take the assistance of Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors to settle disputes. Their presence makes the difference for sorting out differences between the warring groups," a realtor confessed.

Mr. Kaumudi says he will take stringent action against police personnel if he found any specific instance of their involvement with the land mafia/settlement gangs.

Online gangs

There are also gangs on the prowl who look for gullible customers through various online sites. An executive from Hutchison Essar recently browsed a site and got in touch with a realtor. He was offered a VUDA-approved site at Madhurawada at Rs.4,000 per square yard and later `finalised' the deal at Rs.2,500 per square yard.

"Finally, when I saw the bit, I found that the same land was bought and got registered by my cousin's family a few days ago. During the enquiry, we found that the broker wanted to dupe him by procuring a no encumbrance certificate from the sub-registrar's office, Madhurawada by referring the registered document before the land in question - a big plot -- was divided into 200 square yard bits," V. Muralikrishna, who works at Bhubaneswar, disclosed.