Public hearing likely on Gajuwaka lands

VISAKHAPATNAM, MARCH 24. Even as the row over inam lands is hotting up in suburban Gajuwaka, the district administration has decided to hold a public hearing to consider the overwhelming demand for reducing the rates fixed for regularising encroached lands.

Activists of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are on warpath demanding scrapping of the GO Ms. No.7 issued by the Telugu Desam Party Government on January 4, 2003, based on the recommendation of the Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by the then Revenue Minister, P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju.

The sub-committee was constituted to consider the House committee recommendations on the controversy over the Inam lands. About 9,000 habitations spread over nine municipal wards in Gajuwaka have come up on inam lands.

The District Collector, Praveen Prakash, recently told a CPI(M) delegation that they would hold a public hearing to note down public sentiments and resolve the problem amicably.

CPI(M) demand

The CPI(M) State secretariat member, Ch. Narsinga Rao, told The Hindu on Thursday that during the public hearing, they would demand regularisation at Rs.5 per square yard for those owning less than 100 square yards and Rs.20 for 100-200 and Rs.50 for 200 to 400 square yards.

The party's demand is based on the House panel recommendations, which were submitted in 1998.

However, the GO Ms. No.7, according to Mr. Rao, wants to collect a heavy amount from public, who had already got the lands registered by paying rates as per the market value prevalent at the time of purchasing those sites from those claiming to be owners of the said properties.

A note, which was submitted to the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, during his Rajiv Nagar Baata in the city on January 24, stated that if the disputed lands were regularised as per the GO Ms. No.7, the Government would get an income of Rs.193 crores.

The note also admitted that there was severe resentment among the public particularly those owning over 300 square yards. Sources said that municipal officials told Dr. Reddy that revised orders should be issued after taking the aggrieved parties into confidence.

Issue for campaign

With elections for the municipality expected any time, the inam land row is set to become a core issue during the campaigning.

A Congress leader admitted that implementation of House committee recommendations like regularisation at nominal rate and action against Revenue officials involved in inam land scam would fetch the party rich dividends in the elections.

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