BENGALURU: Bureaucrats and builders colluded to falsify documents and sell the same site to multiple buyers, investigations by the rural development and panchayat raj department have found. Officials in five village panchayats are responsible for the scam running to Rs 400 crore.
The investigation uncovered the falsification of Form 9 and Form 11(B), documents mandatory for registration of non-agricultural properties in village panchayats, to enable re-selling of the same site. While Form 9 certifies that the site is located within the village, Form 11(B) is a register that determines who is responsible for payment of tax. Both forms are issued by the panchayat development officer (PDO) and gram panchayat secretary. The forms have to be obtained by the sellers and furnished during property registration.
“This process has been blatantly violated in five gram panchayats in Bengaluru North Taluk. We had received 6,510 complaints to this effect and the magnitude of the fraud is to the tune of over Rs 400 crore,” rural development and panchayat raj (RDPR) minister H K Patil told reporters here on Thursday.
Most of the victims are working professionals and retired employees who bought ‘gramathana’ sites (residential plots in villages) in newly-formed layouts in Arekere village panchayat, Marenahalli village panchayat, Bagalur village panchayat, Hessarghatta village panchayat and Hurulichikkanahalli village panchayat.
Explaining the modus operandi, RDPR officials said: “Usually, the PDO will issue Form 9 and Form 11(B) after making entry of the application in the register and processing it through the government’s E-Swathu portal. But in these cases, the PDOs have colluded with land developers and issued the forms without making any official entries. The developer, in turn, sold the properties and registered them with the sub-registrar. While the buyer believed he was the owner of the property, the developer clandestinely approached senior officials, including the tahsildar, and got Form 9 and Form 11(B) cancelled. The developer would go on to sell the same land to another buyer.”
A committee headed by retired IAS officer R B Agwane, which probed the scam, pointed to the involvement of the gram panchayat chairman, PDO, gram panchayat secretary, data entry operators and land developers.
Based on the committee’s report, the government has initiated action against 14 gram panchayat officials and ordered suspension of Bengaluru north taluk executive officer S R Babu. The government has also ordered for staying issuance of Form 9 and Form 11(B) in the five gram panchayats till the probe is completed. A three-member committee has been set up to suggest measures to compensate the victims.
Credits ET Realty