797 Farmers Without PAN Cards Own Land Worth Rs 220 Crores in Amaravati, CID Seeks I-T Help

CNN-News18

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh Police has claimed to have unraveled a massive land scam in the Amaravati capital region where some of the poorest people have been shown as owners of lands valued at crores.

According to the Crime Investigation Department (CID), an investigation into ‘suspicious land registrations’ revealed that several people from the marginalised sections has purchased very high-priced lands.

As many as 797 white ration card-holders, each with a monthly income of less than Rs 5,000, were found to have bought about 761 acres of land worth Rs 220 crore during 2014 and 2015.

The state CID has written to the Income Tax Department and Enforcement Directorate seeking a wider probe into possible tax evasion and money-laundering deals.

According to a letter sent to the IT Department, the CID team has said several of the buyers did not even possess PAN cards and most probably, could have evaded the taxmen’s lens. As many as 529 of the 797 landowners did not have PAN cards. The letter, further, said most of the deals were in cash transactions and could have easily evaded paying any tax.

“These were white-ration card holders, more than 50 per cent of them do not have PAN cards and most of them were cash transactions. All these show that there could have been money-laundering and tax evasion,” Additional Director General of Police (CID) PV Sunil Kumar told News18.

The lands purchased were in and around the capital region with the highest number of transactions having taken place in Thulluru (243 acres) and Thadikonda (190 acres). Another 130 acres of land was purchased in Amaravati, while 134 acres were bought in the Mangalagiri area.

All the details of the buyers, size of land purchased, sale deeds and market value of the lands have been submitted to the I-T Department.

“These details were unearthed as part of our broader investigation on lands in Amaravati. There could be a massive scam. We’re also looking into other suspicious dealings such as benami land purchases and transactions on lands that should not be bought,” said Kumar. The CID has registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy.

Post bifurcation of the state in 2014, the N Chandrababu Naidu government had declared Amaravati as the capital region of Andhra Pradesh.

About 33,000 acres of land were pooled from farmers to develop the area into a ‘world-class mega city,’ on the lines of Singapore.

However, soon after the YSR Congress Party government, led by Jagan Mohan Reddy, came to power, it decided to not go ahead with the previous dispensation’s plans and instead proposed a three-capital formula — developing Vishakhapatnam as the executive capital and Kurnool as the judicial headquarters. This has led to massive protests by farmers and leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), including Naidu.

However, the government’s move suffered a setback in the Legislative Council after two bills aimed at creating three capitals for the state were referred to a select committee for deeper examination.

Meanwhile, an FIR has been filed against two former ministers of TDP — Prattipati Pulla Rao and P Narayana — on the allegations of forcibly ‘buying’ the land of a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste community in the Amaravati area.

The CID has filed the FIR under charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal intimidation and sections of the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act.

“Several prominent leaders are on the radar. It is a matter of time that they will all be pulled up,” a source in the CID told News18.

The move came a day after the AP Assembly passed a resolution ordering a “comprehensive investigation” into alleged insider trading on land purchases in the Amaravati region.

The ruling party has been alleging that several TDP leaders, including Naidu, were involved in the insider trading.