Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday supervised a drive to free 2,828 acres of "illegally encroached" prime land worth over Rs 300 crore from 15 people, including the children of Sangrur MP Simranjit Singh Mann and former minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar.
The drive was undertaken at Chotti Badi Naggal village in Mohali district's Majri block situated on the foothills of Shivalik. Imaanjit Singh Mann, son of newly elected Lok Sabha MP from Sangrur Simranjit Singh Mann, had encroached 125 acres of land and former minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar's son Harmandeep Singh Dhaliwal had encroached five acres of land, Mann said in an official statement here.
The Sangrur MP's daughter and son-in-law, too, had illegally occupied 28 acres of prime land, the chief minister alleged. He pegged the total value land of the land to nearly Rs 300 crore and said 'Khair' wood planted on this land was worth Rs 50 crore.
Mann said a detailed inquiry has been ordered to ascertain how these "encroachers" had occupied the lands, adding the erring officials will also be brought to book. Rural Development Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, who accompanied Mann, told reporters that out of the total land, 1,100 acres had been encroached by a person who runs an infrastructure company in Chandigarh.
The others include a TV journalist who illegally owns four acres of the land, he said. From May 1, the state government has taken possession of 9,053 acres of prime land which had been illegally encroached, Dhaliwal said.
Mann said the anti-encroachment drive is part of the Aam Aadmi Party's poll promise to bring all the influential illegal encroachers, "who have plundered the wealth mercilessly", to book". The chief minister said the Opposition parties always mocked him asking how his government will arrange funds to fulfil the poll promises.
"I used to always assert that the funds will come from foothills of Shivaliks only after the prime land under their (encroachers') possession is freed," he said. Out of the 2,828 acres, 265 acre land is plain area while nearly 2,500 acre is hilly, he said.
"Only the influential people who have occupied the land illegally are being removed," Mann said, adding no tiller of the land or a poor living there or earning his bread from the place is being displaced.
(With PTI Inputs)