Jha Commission begins inquiry into fake registries at Alirajpur

Justice Shravan Shankar Jha Commission of Inquiry constituted by the Madhya Pradesh (MP) High Court in August 2008 to enquire into the multi-crore scam of fake registries of Sardar Sarovar affected victims started its next phase of proceedings in Alirajpur today. The immensely corrupt nexus of authorities and touts has derailed implementation the rehabilitation of the Sardar Sarovar Project oustees and has denied the affected, their right to agricultural land. This large scale corruption in the whole process has led to a loss worth crores of rupees to the treasury of the Indian State. Read more

Responding to the PIL filed by Narmada Bachao Andolan, Madhya Pradesh High Court constituted a Commission under former High Court Judge, Justice Shravan Shankar Jha to investigate into the matter. The responsibility of the Commission is to enquire into the issue of fake registries and also to identify
the culprits behind the low quality of construction works at the R&R sites.

Today the Jha Commission began the process of listening and recording the statements of people, who were either buyers, sellers or witnesses in the land transactions for Rehabilitation of PAFs in Alirajpur Jila.

The Commission will take statements till 1st of July 2010. This Commission, which has been notified under the Commission of Enquiry Act has the power to issue summons or arrest warrants to any individual. The local authorities did not deliver to many people the information about the hearing issued by the Commission. Some of the affected were prevented from appearing before the Commission. These steps have been taken on the orders of the higher authorities who are completely involved in this scam. Vinay Kumar Dhoka (Deputy Collector) is himself an accused in the Fake Registries case. His involvement in the scam goes back to the time when he was the Land Acquisition Officer of Manavar in
the Sardar Sarovar Project. The Andolan condemns these efforts by the corrupt authorities to interfere with a free and fair enquiry process by the Commission.

From the statements of the people associated with the first two cases itself, heard by the Commission, it was clear that there has been fake registries. It was also clear from the cases that the Adivasi people are incapable of having done these fake registries by themselves, and are mere scapegoats in a corrupt
alliance between middlemen and the authorities. In one case, Surender, a dam affected person from Gram Dharamrai is supposed to have bought land from Shri Jabbar Singh of Gram Mehalgaon for Rs.50,000/- so as to be able to claim his rehabilitation from the Narmada Valley Development Authority. However, after a few days, he sold the same land for Rs15,000/- to the same Jabbar Singh from whom he had bought the land. In the same way, Shri Chamariya from Gram Kulwat first sold his land to SSP affected Bhaisiha for Rs.60,000/- only to buy it back from Chamariya for only Rs.25,000/-. These cases clearly expose the whole process of fake registration, forgery and corruption and is in clear violation of the Narmada Valley Development Authority guidelines, which does not allow for the land bought under the rehabilitation scheme to be sold within the next 5 years.

In another case, 5 acres land of Hira Thuniya from Gram Khandala had been sold to Shri Bhagirath S/o Manu from Village Perkhar (Manavar). This registration was declared authentic in the investigation of the Registrar of Alirazpur and SDO (R) and the land has been transferred to Bhagirath. Hira insists that he has never sold his land. He said – “Area Patwari Shri Deependra Bhulia by hankering with the signatures on the paper sold my land without my knowledge. I am now not eligible for claiming seeds and fertilizers as I do not have the land in my name.” In the registry, Hira’s age has been put as 33 years while he claims that his age is more than 60 years. In the registry, there is also someone else’s photo instead of him as seller. NVDA was unable to make a statement or clarification in any of the cases today.

The hearings shall continue before Justice Jha tomorrow as well. From the side of the Andolan, advocate Kamal Patidar and Anwar Javed were present, along with activists Medha Patkar, Kailash Awasya, Rehmat and others.

Bhagirath Kavche, Devangana Kalita