In a major crackdown on the land mafia, the district administration has ordered transfer of close to 1,900 acres of land in Sohna region back to the local municipal committee. This has happened 20 years after the land was allegedly grabbed.
With this the earlier titles of this land stand dissolved, say officials. This includes 150 acres on which farmhouses have come up. The area falls inside the Aravalli forest area on Sohna-Tauru road. The land was bought by a private developer in the late 1990s, allegedly in violation of the Forest Act and sections 4&5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), according to officials. According to the norms, any land falling under the PLPA can’t be used for non-forest activity without prior approval from the ministry of environment and forest.
Criminal cases will be lodged against all revenue officials found guilty and disciplinary action will also be initiated. Due process of law will be followed to send notices. The legal procedures have already been initiated. Revenue department officials said there are more violations in the case of these farmhouses. While under the norms, the total built-up area on a two-acre farmhouse cannot be over 850 sq ft, many of these properties have been built much beyond this limit.
According to revenue records, 1,900 acres of land had been mutated in names of different individuals between 1990 and 2000. Under the law, the villagers have shares but the common land remains undivided. However, in this case, the land mafia colluded with the revenue officials and fraudulently partitioned the land and registered the plots in the names of individual farmers/villagers. These were then sold off further and registered in the names of private players, including real estate players.
The villagers had complained to the district administration recently and an inquiry into the case exposed the allegedly gross violations. Revenue records show that 80% of the 1,900 acres is agricultural land and free from construction and can be immediately utilized by the Sohna municipal committee for developmental activities. However, 20% of the land has dwelling units around the municipal office and over 70 farmhouses inside the Aravallis.
The deputy commissioner has confirmed that once the fraud came to light, the revenue office was immediately instructed to stop registration of all sale deeds for these lands. The administration has already initiated a demolition drive in some parts.