As trainee IAS officer, Durga unearthed 'land scam' in Mohali

NagpalDurga Shakti Nagpal. (IE Photo)

Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who seems to be paying the price for having taken on the high and the mighty, had in her 14-month stint as trainee officer in Mohali, unearthed a "dead men" registration scam besides freeing several government lands of encroachment.

The officer, originally from the Punjab cadre, joined as assistant commissioner (under training) in Mohali in June 2011. She trained as a block development and panchayat officer at Dera Bassi, Kharar and Majri and remained Mohali SDM for almost a month. Remembered as honest, bright and hardworking by the then deputy commissioner (DC) Varun Roojam she was his general assistant Durga was keen to make an impact even as a trainee.

She inquired into a series of complaints where villagers had alleged that the patwari, in connivance with naib tehsildar Varinder Dhoot, was registering land in the name of dead men and usurping the land themselves.

Durga held an inquiry into the complaints. After examining a series of witnesses and mulling over the complicated land laws, she found the complaint correct. She reported that these two officials looked for those lands in villages, which had no known inheritors to claim ownership and the last known owner had died.

"These lands belong to the government," she wrote in her report. "However, the two officials the patwari and the naib tehsildar would bring persons known to them and propped them as the last known owner. Then got them to sell land to the naib tehsilar and the patwari or to their close associates," she added. Durga sent her findings to the DC in September 2011. The DC moved it to Financial Commissioner (Development) N S Kang. However, no action has been taken against Dhoot till date. When contacted, Kang said: "I will have to look at the report.

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