In a provisional attachment carried out by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a corruption case relating to the widening of National Highway 74, the agency has attached properties worth Rs 21 crore. The movable/immovable properties belong to a Special Land Acquisition Officer (SLAO), farmers & middlemen. The attachments were done under the provision of Prevention Of Money Laundering Act, 2002(PMLA). The attached assets include of 36 immovable properties consisting agriculture, industrial land, commercial plots and buildings situated in Dehradun & Udham Singh Nagar of Uttarakhand and Rampur District of Uttar Pradesh and movable properties consisting of 11 Bank account deposits or mutual funds.
The ED initiated the investigations under PMLA on the basis of an FIR and charge sheet filed by the Uttarakhand Police against Dinesh Pratap Singh and other revenue officers. In the charge sheet, it was revealed that DP Singh and Anil Shukla, the then SLAO’s working in the capacity of Competent Authority of Land Acquisition entered into a conspiracy with other public servants, farmers and middlemen for misappropriation of government funds by way of granting compensation at non-agriculture rate.
According to the agency, the compensation at a non-agriculture rate is much higher than the agriculture rate. The higher compensation was paid on the basis of backdated order passed under section 143 of Uttar Pradesh Zamindari & Land Reform Act, 1950 (UP ZA & LR Act) for changing the land use from agriculture to non-agriculture and subsequent backdated entries in revenue records, documents and projected the forged or backdated documents as genuine at the time of distributing the compensation which resulted in loss of Rs. 215.11 crore to the government.
The agency maintains that investigations under PMLA conducted so far have revealed that the farmers or landowners who had got higher compensation had utilized the excess amount in buying the immovable property, making deposits in the bank and giving commission to revenue officers. The ED is also in the process of identifying more properties so that proceeds of crime can be attached to recover the loses. Sources in the agency say that this is an ongoing investigation and that they are also working on independent leads that have been gathered so far. “We are perusing the documents that we have come across. We would be questioning those involved in the decision making,” said an ED source.