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VACB may probe pledging of forest land

News18test sharma |

Updated: May 1, 2017, 12:38 PM IST
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VACB may probe pledging of forest land
PALAKKAD: The cases related to the promoters of six estates in Nelliampathy who had pledged forest land in lieu of huge loans avai..

PALAKKAD: The cases related to the promoters of six estates in Nelliampathy who had pledged forest land in lieu of huge loans availed of from commercial banks are likely to be entrusted with a special investigative agency like the CBCID or the VACB.
 Replying to a letter written by Sasidharan, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Eastern Circle, to register cases and file FIRs against the six estate owners who had pledged false documents with financial institutions, Palakkad SP M P Dinesh said  he had referred the matter to the Special Government Pleader (forests) M P Madhavan Kutty and obtained his legal opinion. The legal opinion was sought on whether the report by the CCF is sufficient to register a crime against the estate owners.
Madhavan Kutty has said that, instead of bunching all the six estates together, individual FIRs have to be registered.
There is the need for separate reports, along with supporting documents, which have to be obtained from the Chief Conservator of Forests, the pleader said.
Madhavan Kutty has also suggested that a special investigation agency like the CBCID be entrusted with the task of the investigation.
“The Forest Department has got the legal opinion forwarded by the police department. We will furnish details of each estate within two days,” Sasidharan told Express.
The report of the CCF submitted to the SP states that six estate owners had pledged disputed land and availed of loans. The estates are Shernelly, Mira Flores, Smitha Mount, Alexandria, Karappara A&B, and Lakshmy Estate.
According to the report, areas coming under the Nelliampathy reserve forests were leased out to the present owners by the erstwhile Cochin government to raise cash crops. The report states that Shernelly estate owner has availed of loans from SBI, Palakkad, stating that he has free marketable right on the land. The bank has filed a petition before the sub-court, Palakkad, seeking a decree to sell the property to realise the loan amount.
Mira Flores Estate has availed of a loan from the KSIDC. The promoters had registered two companies: M/S New World Investments (P) Ltd and M/S Malabar Dairy Ffarms (P) Ltd in 1994 and purchased 486.63 acres  of Mira Flores estate. The report says
that, in the first place, the registration of the land by the sub-registrar is illegal as it is a forest land. The act of the Chittur Tahsildar in attaching 486.63 acres of reserved forest on the request of the KSIDC was also unlawful. Similarly , the report points out that 62.78 acres of forest land was put up for auction by the Debt Recovery Tribunal, Ernakulam (DRT), to recover the loan defaulted by M/s Jackson Traders to South Indian Bank. The land is part of the estate known as Smitha Mount estate which is forest land. The auction was done without the knowledge of the Forest Department. Neither M/s Jackson Traders nor South Indian Bank has any authority to do any transaction related to the land.
Babu Abraham had availed of a loan from Catholic Syrian Bank, Thrissur, for an amount of `47.66 lakh by pledging 149.08
acres of forest land. Now the bank has approached the DRT to sell the property.
In the case of the Karappara A and B estate, Mrs Shamla Majeed, wife of P V Majeed, had availed of loans worth `334 lakh from  SBI (ADB) branch, Palakkad, by pledging the forest land. The Lakshmy Estate was pledged by Malayail Narayanan, V Radhakrishnan and Malayail Haridas. On default, the bank obtained decrees in its favour.
SP Dinesh said that, apart from the fraud, there were irregularities which could be booked under the Prevention of Corruption
Act also. He said the police are not empowered to investigate such cases as it could only charge cases under the Indian Penal code. Therefore, a Vigilance inquiry would be the best option against the estate owners.

First Published: March 24, 2012, 11:11 AM IST
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