Surat: Ex-Collector Accused In Rs. 2000 Cr Land Record Fraud, Suspended

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Surat: Ex-Collector Accused In Rs. 2000 Cr Land Record Fraud, Suspended

| Updated: June 11, 2024 10:35

The Government of Gujarat has issued orders to suspend Valsad Collector Ayush Oak, accused of serious offences of dereliction of duty and causing loss to the exchequer.

The IAS officer was embroiled in the case of a 52-acre plot situated at survey number 311/3 near the airport in the Dumas area of Surat, valued at Rs. 2000 crore. The collector is accused of helping fraudulently enter 22 names into the revenue records of the land.

The issue was a hot topic and was escalated to the Prime Minister’s Office as well. Congress had caught wind of the scandal, and MLA Tushar Chaudhary had demanded an SIT investigation into the matter.

The young IAS officer of the 2011 batch, Ayush Oak, during his tenure as the collector of Surat from June 23, 2021, to February 1, 2024, took several controversial decisions pointing towards huge corruption in the top bureaucracy. This particular decision that Ayush Oak took on January 29th, just two days prior to the end of his time in office at Surat, proved to be his undoing.

Ayush Oak is accused of misusing his powers to alter the land records, transferring the rights of government-owned land wrongfully to private individuals. He acted brazenly by adding the tenants’ names to the records while ignoring the previous collector’s report authenticating the land as government property.

Ayush Oak had the temerity to ignore the 2015 report of the previous district collector, Rajendra Kumar, who had concluded that the land belonged to the state government. Even the fact that Rajendra Kumar was deputed to the PMO did not deter Ayush Oak from issuing the order for blatant misuse of power.

The high-level committee investigating the incident did not find merit in the claim of the fraudulent landowners’ ownership even prior to 1947. The wrongdoers asserted through advertisements in newspapers their claims of ownership.

In 1976, the name of the deceased Krishnamukhlal Shroff, was entered into the revenue records for the land. By 2005, the land was listed under builders Rajendra Shah, Dharmendra Shah, and Sugamchand Shah. Sugamchand, Pramodchandra Shroff (son of Krishnamukhlal), and one Kiranben Chauhan are deceased, but their inheritors’ names remain in the revenue records.

The General Administration Department notification said that ​​​​Ansuya S. Jha, Additional Collector Valsad, will hold the charge of the Valsad Collector until further orders. The additional chief secretary-level officer will conduct the inquiry.

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