Suspended ex-Surat collector involved in Rs 2,000 cr land scam exposed by Cong, claims party leader

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Surat, Jun 11 (PTI) The opposition Congress in Gujarat on Tuesday alleged that IAS officer and former collector of Surat Aayush Oak was involved in a Rs 2,000 crore land scam, exposed by the party in May.

The allegation came a day after the state government on Monday suspended Oak on charges of committing "negligence" while dealing with a revenue land matter between 2021 and 2024 as the then-collector of Surat district.

Addressing the media, Congress leader Darshan Nayak claimed that he had sent a letter to Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on May 25, seeking an inquiry against Oak for allegedly entering the name of a tenant farmer into the revenue records of a government land worth Rs 2,000 crore in the Dumas area of Surat city.

Oak, serving as Valsad district collector at the time of suspension, allegedly caused a huge financial loss to the government exchequer while dealing with the land matter, the state's General Administration Department (GAD) said in an order on Monday without elaborating.

The IAS officer was transferred to Valsad from Surat on January 31, 2024.

Nayak shared a copy of the letter he emailed to the chief minister in May and demanded an inquiry into the decisions taken by Oak as Surat collector.

"This piece of land measuring 2.17 lakh square meters in the Dumas area has been classified as government land in the revenue records since 1948, and it is now worth nearly Rs 2,000 crore. As per the laws governing tenancy and agricultural lands, the names of tenant farmers cannot be entered in the records of government land," said Nayak, who serves as a general secretary in the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee.

When nearly 22 persons had filed applications before the district collector demanding that their names be included in the records of that land, the then collector had taken this matter suo motu in 2015 and rejected all these applications in the public interest, he said.

Even after that, no collector had challenged that order and the land remained a government-owned land in revenue records, Nayak said.

"However, as part of a conspiracy in connivance with land mafias and political leaders, Oak, a day before his transfer, gave his approval to enter the name of one Krushnamukhlal Shroff as a tenant farmer, which would establish that person's right on that precious land. This was perhaps a first incident wherein a tenant was added in the revenue records of government land," he claimed.

The Congress leader said the state government overturned Oak's order in May and initiated an inquiry after the matter was brought to light by the opposition party.

Nayak said he along with sitting Congress MLA, Dr Tushar Chaudhary, had addressed a press conference on May 20, and demanded Oak's suspension and registration of an FIR against him and others involved in the alleged scam of capturing the government land. PTI COR PJT PD ARU