Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gujarat IAS officer arrested in earthquake rehabilitation land scam case.

The arrest of senior IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, municipal commissioner of Bhavnagar, in a Rs70 crore land scam in land allotment scam to earthquake affected people of Kutch has shocked the state bureaucracy
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Gujarat cadre IAS officer Pradip Sharma  was arrested in a Rs 70 Crore land scam involving irregularities in Kutch earthquake rehabilitation after the natural disaster of 2001. He is brother Additional DGP Kuldeep Sharma
The officer was arrested in connection with a case registered against him in Bhuj, CID crime chief VV Rabari said. The wholesale grain market building in Bhuj had collapsed after the earthquake on January 26, 2001. To rehabilitate the victims state government had allotted 17 acres of land on the foothills of Bhujiya hillock to the traders of Bheed Bazaar.
To get this land victims were asked to procure a G-5 certificate from the district collector of Kutch before they could lay claim to the land. The scam took place between May 2003 to June 2008 when Sharma was Kutch Collector.
But many traders, who were not even affected by the calamity, managed to get land by presenting fake certificates. A complaint in this regard was filed by Henry Chako, Kutch secretary of an NGOAll India Anti Corruption and Crime Prevention council in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhuj in August 2007. The NGO filed another complaint in Gujarat High Court in January 2008.
Following this, the court had ordered the CID Crime of Bhuj to probe the matter.In the complaint filed by the NGO nobody's name was mentioned. But the CID, in its prime facie inquiry, identified the then collector Sharma, and three office bearers of the Nav Nirman Trust -its president Arvind Thackar, joint general secretary Prabodh Thackar and executive committee member Shambhu Popat as the offender.
Arvind Thaker is a former president of Bhuj Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Pravin Kothari and Shambhu Popat are office bearers of the Bhuj Wholesale Market Association 
The CID investigation revealed that while many beneficiaries had certificates that did not have the signatures and stamp of the collector, there were others who were not even traders. According to the findings of the NGO only 11 of the 400 people who had the certificates were genuine beneficiaries.

Pradeep Sharma was promoted from the state civil service (SCS) to IAS in 1994.
He has served as the deputy commissioner of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, municipal commissioner of Jamnagar, collector of Bhuj, collector Rajkot and was at present posted as the municipal commissioner of Bhavnagar.
Sharma's efforts in removing encroachments and beautifying the city were appreciated by the common people of Bhavnagar. Sharma is known among his IAS brethrens as an aggressive but innovative officer. His aggressiveness was not liked by many of the staff members in Bhavnagar Municiple Corporation. That is why when the news of his arresst brokeout some of the BMC staff distributed sweets. His most unpopular advise was for the aging less efficient staff to take VRS. 

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