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A.T. Ramaswamy committee report recommends jail for land grabbers

A.T. Ramaswamy

A.T. Ramaswamy  

Staff Reporter

Panel on encroachment of government land places interim report in Assembly

Government staff colluded with land grabbers, says reportPanel recommends legal action against erring public servants

Bangalore: The Legislature should enact a law on the lines of the Andhra Pradesh Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act 1982 to punish land grabbers and those who abet such crimes.

The period of imprisonment for such offenders should be a minimum of three years with a fine.

This is the highlight of the interim report submitted in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday by the Chairman of the Joint Legislature Committee on encroachment of government land in Bangalore and the adjoining areas, A.T. Ramaswamy.

The report has also recommended that a special court be constituted for speedy trial of all the land encroachment cases.

The committee has so far detected encroachment of 13,614.37 acres of land worth Rs. 27,377.75 crore belonging to the departments of Revenue, Muzrai, Forest, Minor Irrigation (tank beds), Health, Animal Husbandry and Transport apart from the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB), the town municipal councils and city municipal councils, the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP), the Karnataka Housing Board (KHB), the Wakf Board, various house building cooperative societies, Bangalore University and the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board.

Graveyards too...

The land grabbers have not spared graveyards and have encroached upon 599 acres of this apart from 3,246 acres of waste weirs, canals and roads.

The interim report has held several government departments and agencies responsible for the encroachment and said government personnel had also colluded with the land grabbers. The Revenue Department said the officials had issued three lakh "bogus title deeds" in Bangalore Urban district alone.

The report recommended creation of a permanent legal authority headed by a High Court judge to take appropriate action against encroachers.

This would act as a deterrent. It should have powers to conduct prima facie inquiry and register cases and the authority should be provided adequate police and administrative staff.

High land cost

Emphasising the need for such a legal authority, the report said encroachments were more in and around Bangalore owing to the high land cost. "This naturally leads to encroachment of all lands, including parks, playgrounds and tank beds."

Mr. Ramaswamy recommended issuing orders to appoint an officer, not below the rank of Principal Secretary to the Government, exclusively for implementing its report. The report recommended legal action under Sections 197, 198 and 464 of the Indian Penal Code against government or public servants for offences such as creating false documents or destruction of official records.

The committee recommended that all departments and other agencies such as the urban local bodies and statutory institutions should appoint officers as competent authorities under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupation) Act for removing encroachments of government land and other land acquired by it.

It suggested that the deputy commissioner of the district or the assistant commissioner should issue eviction orders to retrieve the encroached land and other departments should supply records to assist the official.

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