Over 70 acres of forest land in Dera Bassi — worth Rs 700 crore — has been transferred to a private individual in connivance with government officials, an inquiry by the district revenue officer (DRO), Mohali, has found.
Land records, including 10 jamabandis (mutation registers) from 1952 onward, have been found tampered with — pages that showed the state forest department to be in possession of the land have been torn out, and pages with the name of a private individual inserted, declaring him to be the owner of the land.
The forest land is in the Peer Mashala area where private housing projects abound. The change of ownership is alleged to have been intended to sell this land to promoters. A jamabandi is generally considered to be valid proof of ownership of land. Land can be sold or bought on the basis of jamabandi entries.
Mohali DRO Rohit Gupta has reported that the ownership was changed in a planned, systematic manner between 2010 and 2013 to benefit one Shiv Dayal, son of Babu Singh. The revenue department is yet to locate this person. The village patwari and qanungo appeared to have played a role in the transfer.
The report, submitted to the deputy commissioner and financial commissioner, Revenue, has recommended the registration of an FIR against all those involved in the alleged land-grab. The DC has already ordered that the land be restored to the forest department, and frozen all land deals in the area. He has also ordered a comprehensive scrutiny of land records in Peer Mashala to detect similar cases, if any.
On August 19, the state conservator of forests wrote to the DC saying that his officers had noticed that out of the 1,871 biswa of forest land in Peer Mashala, only 1,533 biswa were showing up as forests. The rest was now in the name of a private individual. The forest department told the DC that the land was worth Rs 700 crore, and that sale or purchase of this land should be frozen immediately.
The inquiry found that all 10 jamabandis starting from 1952, and the current khasra girdawri register had been tampered with.
In the jamabandi of 1952-53, new pages that looked like old, yellowing ones were inserted, but the ink on them was darker. Each of the pages bore forged signatures of a qanungo, and the handwriting on them failed to match that on the other pages.
It seemed that the stitching of the jamabandi was opened, and the book was restitched after the new pages were inserted, says the report. In the later jamabandis, the alleged land-grabbers seemingly mixed up the serial numbers of the pages, leading to overwriting and cutting on all pages.
The alleged grabbers also mixed up the khewat and khatauni numbers, the report says.