Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Belpahar, May 25:
Even as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached properties worth only Rs 379 crores belonging to Deepak Gupta, the mastermind of the Rs 1400 crore Uliburu mega mining scam in Odisha on May 21, the big question is: will the ED also attach the 530 acres of land belonging to him in Jharsuguda district?
Deepak Gupta had fraudulently converted the kissam (type) of 530 acres of land in Lakhanpur block of Jharsuguda district to industrial type without the state government’s permission by creating fake land owners with the help of land brokers. The matter came to light after letters for mutation of land were sent to eight land owners of Badimal village under Lakhanpur block by the local tehsil office.
Since 2008, Deepak’s father Haricharan Gupta had issued a power of attorney to Om Prakash Singhal, a resident of Kabir Chowk, Raigarh of Chhattisgarh in the name of Deepak Ispat Limited. On the strength of this power of attorney, hundreds of acres of land in six villages of Badimal, Badadhara, Kanaktura, Jharagon, Kanjijharan and Kuhakunda villages under Lakhanpur block were illegally acquired and their kissam (type) converted to industrial type.
The district administration has admitted that it has been done in complete violation of the Industrial Policy Regulation, 2007 and 73(c) of the Odisha Land Reforms Act. Provisions of the law require that prior to establishment of an industry, the promoter has to sign a MoU with the state government and seek permission from the government for land acquisition. This mandatory process has not been followed by Deepak Ispat Limited in this case.
Using land mafia and fake land owners and without the knowledge of real owners of the land or their legal heirs, Deepak Gupta’s firm has got 530 acres of land registered out of which pattas (title deed to a property) for 221.56 acres have been already issued in favour of the company.
In his letter no 152 dated January 10, 2013, the Lakhanpur tehsildar had informed Jharsuguda collector that these lands have been registered at the sub-registrar’s office at Jharsuguda in 2010-11 and 2012-13.
However, it was alleged that the district administration did not initiate any action on the matter.
On June 10, 2013, the district administration registered a land ceiling case against Deepak’s firm under the provisions of the Odisha Land Reforms (OLR) Act and served notice to the company. But it was found that the Budhram Oram Market, Birsa Dahar Road, Rourkela-the address mentioned by Deepak Ispat Limited in all documents was fake.
Even the Company Identification Number (CIN) provided in the documents was also found to be a fake one. The Baleswar branch of the Vigilance Directorate has registered a case against the company on discovering the CIN provided to be a fake one. The special cell of the directorate too has registered a case against Deepak Ispat Limited.
Additional chief secretary (Revenue) Tara Datt in August 2013 had directed Jharsuguda collector to present a detailed report on the matter. After conducting due inquiry, the collector had sent his report stating that Deepak Ispat Limited has committed land fraud.
Though Lakhanpur tehsildar had sent a letter registering a ceiling case against Deepak Ispat Limited, the letter bounced back as the address was found to be false. Since then no progress has been made in the case.
According to the OLR Act rules, no public can buy more than 30 acres of land. What needs to be probed is how Haricharan Gupta managed to purchase hundreds of acres of land in the name of Omprakash Singhal without the knowledge of higher officials?
While the state government has refrained from taking any special steps in this grand land scam by Deepak Gupta in Lakhanpur block of Jharsuguda district, the state Enforcement Directorate too not attaching this property of Deepak Gupta has surprised many.