Mrunal Manmay Dash

Cracking the whip on corrupt officials, the Odisha Vigilance department arrested a former Tehsildar of Kujang Block under Jagatsinghpur district and four Revenue Inspectors on Monday following multiple raids in connection with a major land fraud probe.

The former Tehsildar of Kujang has been identified as Ramesh Chandra Panda. Apart from that, the arrested Revenue Inspectors included Santosh Kumar Mallick, Narendra Kumar Lenka, Subash Chandra Das (Ex- Revenue Inspectors, Kujanga), and Jyoti Bhusan Barik (Ex- Revenue Inspector of Pandua Circle).

The accused Ramesh Panda is now posted as the Tehsildar at Tihidi Block under Bhadrak district.

The arrests were made following simultaneous house searches at nine places including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Bhadrak and Jagatsinghpur districts.

As many as nine teams led by one Additional SP, 11 DSPs, 6 Inspector rank officers conducted the raids at multiple locations in the four districts.

As per reports, the raids were conducted over charges of criminal misconduct, misappropriation, forgery and criminal conspiracy by these former government officials in illegally settling valuable Government land under the Odisha Government Land Settlement Act in favour of in-eligible beneficiaries under the Vasundhara scheme.

The Vigilance department had registered a case under Sections 13(2), 13(1)(a) of the Prevention of Corruption ( Amendment) Act, 2018 and Sections 466/409/120-B of the Indian Penal Code in this connection.

Meanwhile, M Radhakrishnan, SP, Vigilance Cell in Cuttack said, “The 5 accused have been arrested under vigilance case number 4, 22/08/2021 on charges of providing government land to ineligible beneficiaries under the Vasundhara scheme. They will be forwarded to court soon.”

As per the allegations, not only in Kujang, there are reports of mass misappropriation of government land at Paradipgarh, Nimidhi, Rangiagarh, Balia, Barunakandha, Pipala, Fatepur, Balarampur and Talapada moujas as well, where influential people with money have allegedly grabbed government lands under the scheme where as the poor eligible beneficiaries have been left out through rejection.

Maina Sahu, a local at Paradipgarh said, “I have spent over Rs 2 Lakh, but these officials sold the land to the local bigwigs. The millionaires of the area got the land documents meant for the landless. It is sheer injustice.”

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