With latest CID arrests, YSRCP govt intensifies probe into Amaravati assigned land scam

Arrests seen as a veiled warning to the Opposition TDP, which is backing farmers agitating against state's 3-capitals plan.

BySNV Sudhir

Published Sep 14, 2022 | 1:47 PMUpdatedSep 14, 2022 | 1:47 PM

narayana ponguru

The arrest on Tuesday, 13 September, of five persons by the Andhra Pradesh CID marks an intensification of the YSRCP government’s probe into what is called the Amaravati land scam, and is also a warning to the Opposition TDP that is backing farmers of the region agitating against the state’s three-capitals plan.

The CID sleuths arrested Kolli Sivaram and Gattem Venkatesh of Vijayawada, and Chikkala Vijaya Saradhi, Bade Anjanayelu and Kotti Krishna Dora Babu of Vizag — all of them said to be associates of Ponguru Narayana, who served as MA & UD minister in the N Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government between 2014 and 2019

Purchase of assigned land

The case relates to the alleged illegal purchase of lands assigned to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes (SCs, STs and BCs) from villages in the Amaravati capital region.

These are lands “assigned” by the government to the poor. Purchase of assigned lands is illegal under the Prohibition of Transfer Act (POT) of 1977.

One of the first actions of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy when he became chief minister in 2019 was to appoint a cabinet subcommittee to investigate the alleged land scam in Amaravati.

After the subcommittee gave in its report, the CID filed multiple FIRs, with one of them naming TDP chief Naidu and former minister Narayana, among others.

It was only six days ago that Narayana, along with a few others, obtained anticipatory bail from the Andhra Pradesh High Court in another case related to the Amaravati land scam.

What the case is about

Tuesday’s arrests are connected to the illegal purchase of 169.27 acres of the estimated 1,100 acres of total illegal transactions in assigned lands in the Amaravati capital region that is under investigation.

CID has accused Narayana and others of an orchestrated campaign to create insecurity in the minds of gullible peasants who owned assigned lands, especially those of the Schedule Castes and Backward Classes.

“Through their men and revenue officials they spread the message that the government would take away assigned lands without any compensation, as part of the land acquisition for the development of Amaravati capital city. This created insecurity in the minds of those owning assigned lands,” a top CID official told South First.

“Narayana was the minister who had control over granting permissions of town layouts and building permissions. He and his family misused and abused his official position for personal gains. As minister, Narayana had all the information on the extent of the land and its nature/classifications,” the official added.

The assigned lands were bought by signing initial agreements for which paltry amounts were paid. They then got general power of attorneys (GPAs) and, thereafter, the sale deeds were executed, the CID official explained.

148 sale deeds executed

The accused and their associates purchased the 169.27 acres in the capital city villages of Borupalem, Kurgallu, Lingayapalem, Mandadam, Nekkallu, Nelapadu, Nowluru, Rayapudi, Thullur, Uddandarayunipalem and Venkatapalem and obtained 148  sale deeds from the farmers.

These were submitted to the Sub-Registrar’s Office in Mangalagiri.

Kolli Sivaram, one of the men arrested on Tuesday, meanwhile got GPA deeds executed for the same properties as a precaution and a means to retain control over those named as purchasers of the assigned lands.

“Ponguru Narayana consciously orchestrated this conspiracy of illegally purchasing assigned lands from the landholders. This is clearly established through the statements of certain very important official witnesses,” said the CID official.

The money trail

Under a Land Pooling Scheme, those in possession of the assigned land were to get 1,300 square yards for development, or a little less than a fourth of the land. These benefits finally went to the “benamis” of Narayana, instead of the originally assigned landholders, the CID said.

The CID has said it has successfully tracked the financial trail from entities and people connected to Ponguru Narayana and his family members to the purchase of the assigned lands at low rates from the SC/ST/BC farmers in the Amaravati capital area.