Cuttack: The economic offences wing of state crime branch today arrested Ganesh Nayak, a key accused in the Bidanasi government land fraud.
The scam, which was earlier being probed by the CBI, involves fraudulent transaction of government land of nearly 300 acres.
Senior officials said the accused had made crores of rupees by selling government land to various persons, including police officers, journalists and other influential persons. "From 1968, the government land was in the name of a woman and using the power of attorney, the accused had sold these to different people," said B.K. Sharma, additional director general of police (crime branch).
Sharma said the accused used to run a marriage mandap in Jajpur and was one of the biggest land mafia operating in the state. He is alleged to have disposed of nearly 10 acres out of the total 15 acres of government land that was in the name of the woman. This is the first arrest made by the police.
Houses and other constructions have come up on nearly 10 acres at Bidanasi, while five acres have been returned to the government.
Earlier in response to a PIL filed in 2012, the high court directed a CBI probe. As the investigating agency did not file any case in connection with the land scam, the offences wing was asked to conduct a probe in December 2014.
Based on the report of Barang tehsildar, a case was subsequently registered by the economic offences wing. During investigation, it was found that 15 acres was settled at Bidanasi and the accused had subsequently sold the land to various persons.
Even though CBI had pointed out that the illegal squatters had enjoyed water, electricity and other facilities, no concrete steps was taken to identify the culprits even though it was suspected that few government officials were also involved in the scam.
Crime branch officials said that the accused had been arrested under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of Indian Penal Code and would be produced before a local court in Jajpur today.