Guava Compensation Scam: VB arrests Kharar Horticulture Development Officer Vaishali
Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) on Wednesday has arrested Vaishali, the Horticulture Development Officer (HDO), Kharar, in connection with the guava orchard compensation scam. Notably, she is the 17th person to be arrested by the VB in the multi-crore rupees scam.
Revealing this here today, an official spokesperson of the VB said that Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) had acquired a land for the development of Aerotropolis project alongside the Airport Road, SAS Nagar (Mohali). As per the acquisition policy, compensation of the land acquired was to be provided in accordance with the Land Pooling Policy of GMADA.
However, he said, value of Fruit/Guava trees attached to land was to be paid in addition to the value of the land and the determination of value of fruit trees was to be made by the Department of Horticulture. Subsequently, Land Acquisition Collector, GMADA sent a survey list of land said to be having fruit trees to Director Horticulture requesting to prepare assessment report of the trees.
The spokesperson further said that firstly, assessment work of ‘Pocket A’ (Village Bakarpur) was marked by Deputy Director, Mohali to Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, HDO Dera Bassi whereas, this area falls in the jurisdiction of HDO, Kharar, who was Ms Vaishali. Jaspreet Sidhu submitted his assessment report considering 2500 plants per acre that too of Category 1 and 2. This report was further sent to LAC, GMADA to release payments accordingly.
However, some landowners filed applications that their plants have not been assessed rightly and they claimed enhanced compensation. On the basis of these applications, Director Horticulture constituted a State level committee to verify this report. This committee comprised of two Assistant Directors and two HDOs. The committee suggested reassessment of plants as per classification of Orchards according to health and yield. Thereafter, assessment work of ‘Pocket A’ was assigned to HDO Kharar Vaishali, who submitted her report which was almost similar to the first report suggesting most of the plants as fruit yielding (4-5 years of age) so that maximum possible compensation could be passed on to the beneficiaries, he added.
On the basis of her report, around Rs 145 Crores were released as a compensation, the spokesperson said while adding that Vaishali has been absconding since the registration of FIR and her anticipatory bail was dismissed by Sessions Court, Mohali. Moreover, her bail petition was pending before High Court which too has not allowed any interim relief to her.
In the case further investigation is underway to determine roles of other officials of the Horticulture Department, he added.