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Land compensation diverted to ‘ghost’ names
SANJOY RAY
 DIPHU (KARBI ANGLONG), Sept 30 - Names of legitimate landowners have been deleted, new fake dag numbers created, and huge amounts of funds released as compensation from the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) have been allegedly diverted towards ‘ghost’ names, in what could turn out to be one of the biggest land acquisition compensation scams in the name of the ambitious four-laning project in the Dimapur-Assam portion in Karbi Anglong district.

The Dimapur-Assam portion four-laning project will cover a stretch of 14 kilometres, where large-scale financial irregularities vis-a-vis land acquisition compensation have come to the fore. While many original land owners have been left out of the final list of beneficiaries, a number of fictitious names have crept in.

Worse, many revenue department staff, including mandals and mouzadars, have allegedly replaced the names of original land owners by their own names to divert the compensation amount, which may run into crores of rupees.

“Not just one or two, as many as nine mandals and mouzadars have inserted their names in the list of beneficiaries by leaving out the original land owners. We want the higher authorities to make field verification. I can guarantee that not a single fake beneficiary would be able to identify the land they are claiming to be theirs,” said T Andrew, general secretary, Aggrieved Land Owners Committee of Karbi Anglong District.

Significantly, some of the revenue department officials even went on to issue cheques from their personal bank accounts to some of the poor hapless land owners and in the process siphoned off the original amount released in the name of the legitimate beneficiaries.

One of the mandals issued three cheques worth Rs 3.3 lakh (approx), Rs 1.90 lakh (approx) and Rs 2.29 lakh (approx) from his personal account, in lieu of the compensation money due that was supposed to be much higher.

“As part of the large-scale manipulation, names of many land owners were removed arbitrarily from the final list of beneficiaries. Our lands were surveyed but we did not get any information about the money allotted against our names. Suddenly, the mandal concerned came and gave us cheques issued from his personal account, which was not even one-tenth of what we were supposed to get from the government,” said Deepak Mallik and Md Seraj of Karaigaon Raibasti Block 4.

“How can the revenue staff release compensation from his personal account. It is a huge scam,” they said.

The Assam Tribune has even accessed records where a number of patta land in Naharjan village and adjoining areas, against which tax had been duly paid by their owners for decades, were suddenly changed as government land leaving the poor land owners in the lurch.

“Once somebody’s name is there in the chita book, how can that be earmarked as government land. The revenue and settlement officials have no answer to our questions,” Tiken Brahma, the village head of Naharjan questioned.

Amenla Paira, another such land owner, told this correspondent that the authorities did not pay her the total amount due to her as compensation and on top of that she was asked to share a part of the payment with her neighbour Raul Teron, who is holding a different dag number.

Anita Mech, another deprived land owner, said, “Despite them approaching the police and filing multiple FIRs, no action has been taken. It is baffling to know why the land owners were not issued any notice prior to survey of their plots. In fact, they created a new chita book and did not even bother to inform the owners during the course of the survey.

“We need the master copy of the four-lane project and proper field verification in the presence of actual land owners. Plus, there has to be a transparent mechanism for payment of compensation,” she said.

Michael Timung, deputy secretary of the revenue department of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, who is responsible for looking after the compensation aspect, told The Assam Tribune that he will look into the grievances.

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