Anti-encroachment drive in Barwani (File Pic)
Anti-encroachment drive in Barwani (File Pic)

BHOPAL: Even as the government claims to have got land worth around Rs 8,000 crore freed from encroachments, land worth more than Rs 25,000 crore continues to be under the possession of bigwig encroachers in the state. The anti-mafia drive is underway in the state and the administration has cracked down on properties of land mafia who were sitting on government land for decades.

The anti-land mafia drive continues in such major cities as Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior, but it has lost steam in the smaller cities and even at their divisional headquarters.

In big cities, a large chunk of government land is still to be released from the clutches of bigwig encroachers, who allegedly have strong connections in the political and administrative circles. This patronage provides an opportunity to these big encroachers to escape any action.

Land allotted to such departments as irrigation, PWD, local bodies, revenue, hospitals and religious trusts have been occupied by encroachers. Sources said that the administration is not paying any attention and neither taking any step to get the land released as people encroaching upon them are bigwigs enjoying ‘political backing’.

For the past 15 years, the revenue department has not collected any data on encroachments at the state level. It seems that the department does not want to show on paper the government land being encroached upon. The data is only available at the district headquarters.

Even when the revenue department verifies that land is encroached upon, the encroacher moves court, making it a sub judice matter, which the administration wants to avoid. Earlier, whenever government land was encroached upon, the patwari would impose a penalty on encroachers and the chapter would end there, thus ‘officially or unofficially’ declaring that the land is no more under the possession of the government.

At the district and the block level, the encroachers have taken into possession ‘gochar bhumi’ grazing land, Kanji House land, government school land, people utility land and other government plots. The lists of encroachments are with patwaris and tehsildars at the tehsil level.

At the village level the list of encroached land is with sarpanch and panchayat secretary. However, none raises any voice against the bigwig encroachers, for the fear of backlash.

Encroached properties being identified: Johri

Director General of Police Vivek Johri, while talking to Free Press, said that since the launch of anti-land mafia drive in the state, government land worth crores had been freed. The district police are taking the help of local administration to identify the encroachment and initiate action against the guilty, said Johri. The government claims that it has freed land worth more than Rs 8000 crore from the encroachers.

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