Telangana IAS officer under scanner in forest land grab case

The previous government allegedly handed over the land worth around Rs 380 crore to the private individual overruling the objections raised by the forest department.
Telangana IAS officer under scanner in forest land grab case
(Express illustration)

HYDERABAD: A former collector of the Jayashankar Bhupalpally district and some revenue officials are under scanner for allegedly colluding with a private individual and helping the latter encroach forest lands worth hundreds of crores during the tenure of the BRS government. This came to light after the Supreme Court found fault with an affidavit filed by the former Bhupalpally collector supporting the ownership claim of the individual over 106 acres of land in Kompally forest in the district.

The previous government allegedly handed over the land worth around Rs 380 crore to the private individual overruling the objections raised by the forest department.

Keeping in view the Supreme Court’s observations, the government is learnt to be contemplating investigating the entire episode and taking action against the officials who were hand in glove with the encroacher.

The private person approached the court 20 years ago claiming ownership of the 106 acres in the reserve forest in Bhupalpally district. The erstwhile Warangal district court delivered a judgment in favour of the forest department in 1994. Later, he challenged the court order in the high court which also upheld the district court judgment.

However, when filed a review petition in the high court in 2021, he received a favourable judgment. Subsequently, the forest department filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the HC verdict. The then district collector filed an affidavit in the SC in favour of the individual’s claim without the permission of the government.

Objecting to two government departments submitting different affidavits, the SC sought an explanation from the chief secretary. Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy took a special interest in the matter which came to his notice immediately after he assumed charge.

The officials were asked to file an affidavit in the apex court immediately and fight the legal battle until the case was won. With the intervention of the CM, the affidavit submitted by the district collector was withdrawn in the Supreme Court. The government believes that the previous regime allowed the encroachment under the guise of Haritha Haram.

Another affidavit was filed by the chief secretary on February 8 claiming that the land was part of the reserve forest.

The Supreme Court delivered its judgment two days ago upholding the claim of the forest department and directing the state government to take action against the officials who filed the affidavits in support of the claim of the private individual.

Faulting the actions of the previous regime, the Supreme Court imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the encroacher and the government.

According to sources, the district collector and revenue officials joined hands with the encroacher to prepare false reports under pressure from a former BRS MLA.

Two DFOs were allegedly transferred due to their refusal to prepare reports as per the wish of the political leaders.

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