The YSR Congress party government in Andhra Pradesh led by chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, which has been unearthing land scams of the previous Telugu Desam Party government in Amaravati and other parts of the state, has now focused on massive land encroachment by Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM) university in Visakhapatnam.
Media reports say following orders from the state government, Revenue Divisional Officer of Visakhapatnam conducted an inquiry and confirmed that GITAM university is in possession of 40.51 acres of land at Rushikonda and Endada mandals.
The university authorities have constructed compound wall and some structures in these encroached lands. Based on the RDO report, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the CID is also probing into the matter.
The government is said to be seriously planning to take back these encroached lands from the university, promoted by former Telugu Desam Party MP late M V V S Murthy, who died in a road accident in USA a couple of years ago. Needless to say, Murthy got the favours during the Chandrababu Naidu regime.
It was in 1981 that the GITAM management had applied to the state government for allotment of 71 acres of land in Rushikonda and Endada mandals for setting up of educational institutions.
Since it was meant for assignment to the landless poor but was in some legal dispute, the then government allotted the land to GITAM subject to certain conditions that it should purchase the lands as per the rate prescribed by the government after the settlement in the court or the government might take back the land.
By 1996, the issue was settled in the court and GITAM had already constructed buildings in 14 acres. Subsequently, the then government took back 22 acres of land, while allotting remaining 35 acres to GITAM. Later, the then Naidu government handed over the entire land to the institute at a nominal rate of Rs 18,000 per acre.
Later, there were allegations that GITAM had encroached pieces of land, including 7.61 acres assigned to housing board for constructing weaker section housing and another 55.24 acres of land at Rishikinda, which was allocated for the housing of the poor people under the Rajiv Swagruha Corporation.
Now, the latest inquiry by RDO has revealed that the GITAM university was in illegal possession of nearly 40 acres of assigned land. Let us wait and see how the Jagan government takes back the land or whether this will also get into legal wrangle.