Gujarat acts tough against land mafia

State takes steps after rising instances of land grab

Updated - March 05, 2022 02:54 pm IST

Published - March 05, 2022 02:48 pm IST - AHMEDABAD

A road under construction on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Realty prices have seen a massive jump as cities expand. File

A road under construction on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Realty prices have seen a massive jump as cities expand. File | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

With skyrocketing land prices, instances of land grab are on the rise in Gujarat, prompting the State authorities to act tough on mafias that grab government or private land using forged documents and false records.

After the Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act was enacted in 2020, the State administration has lodged 586 FIRs, under which a total of 2,256 individuals have been booked.

The authorities have filed the charge-sheet in 336 cases out of 586 FIRs that have been lodged.

In the Assembly, Gujarat Revenue Minister Rajendra Trivedi stated that after the law was passed, a total of 12,342 complaints related to land grab over 1,014 ha were received. After scrutiny by the revenue and police officials, 818 complaints were found to be genuine and recommended for further action.

According to Mr. Trivedi, so far land worth ₹1,075 crore had been freed from the mafia.

Similarly, 499 complaints were received on land grab at government land parcels over 695 ha. After detailed scrutiny, 121 complaints were recommended for prosecution and, accordingly, 99 FIRs were lodged against 478 individuals.

Need for law

The Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act was apparently brought in because there were, according to the State’s officials, several reports of land mafia grabbing farmers’ land in several places and particularly in the vicinity of the main cities, where realty prices have seen a massive jump as cities are expanding.

Under the law, anyone who illegally grabs land, provides money for construction, threatens the owner, extorts rent, or helps in any such activity will be considered a land grabber. It could be a commercial company, a group of people or a religious or charity organisation.

The complaints are scrutinised by the SITs constituted at every district.

At every district level, a seven-member committee headed by the Collector, which also includes the District Superintendent of Police, Municipal Commissioner, Police Commissioner, Chief Executive Officer of the urban development authority and the resident Additional Collector of each district has been designated to look into complaints of land grab.

As per the law, the committee has to meet once a fortnight to look into a complaint by any aggrieved person. After scrutiny, it has to appoint an inquiry officer, who has to submit a report, based on which the committee has to make a decision within 21 days.

The law provides for 10 years of imprisonment, extendable up to 14 years, for violators.

On Friday, the Assembly passed the Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill-2022, which proposes that the word ‘land’ in the original act “shall not include the land in respect of which applications for grants are pending on the date of commencement of this Act under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights), Act, 2006”.

The amendment is meant to protect tribals from any penal action under the Act if they had already applied for allocation of land under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act.

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