Agra-Lucknow e-way scam: Farmers not beneficiaries in 90 registrations

By Times Of India on 02 May 2017
FIROZABAD/AGRA: Just before land acquisition began for the expressway, 90 people in Firozabad bought farmers' land and then sold it to the government at higher rates.

The Agra district magistrate said she had prepared a report on this and sent it to the government for further action. As many as 27 persons including five revenue department officials and 22 villagers of Firozabad were recently booked for showing farm land as residential and pocketing higher compensation during acquisition of the plot for the expressway.

In Firozabad, around 410 hectare of land was acquired in 32 villages and compensation to the tune of Rs 330 crore was given to 2,027 farmers.

Firozabad district magistrate Neha Sharma said, "During the investigation of all the 2,027 sale deeds registered in the district we found that in 90 cases beneficiaries were not farmers. These people have bought farm lands at cheaper rates from farmers and then sold it to the government at higher prices during land acquisition. Such deals hint towards exploitation of farmers at the hand of middlemen who played an active role in transferring farm lands to private parties. We have sent a detailed report to the government for further action."

She informed that Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority had not allotted any acquired land to any party though.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has initiated a probe into an alleged anomalies in land-use change for higher compensation in Lucknow-Agra Expressway. The inquiry is looking into the alleged change in land use of farm lands to extract inflated compensations.

The UP government has directed district magistrates of 10 districts - Lucknow, Unnao, Kanpur Dehat, Mainpuri, Etawah, Auraiya, Hardoi, Kannuaj, Firozabad and Agra - to probe all the land deals done in around 230 villages from over 20,500 villagers during the past 18 months.

The government has also hired engineering consultancy company RITES to conduct a technical survey of the expressway.

For the 302-km greenfield expressway, built at a cost of Rs 15,000 crore, the UP government had purchased 3,500 hectare of land in 10 districts. Soon after the government's probe order, Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority registered an FIR at Shikohabad police station. UPEIDA special field officer Yogesh Nath Lal in complaint to police stated that during the registration of land in Bachela-Bacheli village under Sirsaganj tehsil, the property was shown as residential one, while in reality it was under farming.

In collusion with the then settlement officers (consolidation) for Mainpuri/Firozabad and others, the villagers had allegedly shown the plot as residential in the sale deed in July 2012 and later got it registered as residential in the land records in April 2014.

After specific complaints were received about the discrepancies, the then district magistrate Vijay Kiran Anand had constituted a team under additional district magistrate (revenue) to inquire into the matter. The inquiry had confirmed that the plot was being used for farming.