Collector suspended

Ahmedabad cover story

Collector suspended

IAS officer Ayush Oak suspended for fraudulently handing over 52-acre government land to 22 people while serving as Surat Collector

Ahmedabad’s mirror

June 11, 2024 06:00 | UPDATED: June 11, 2024 03:09 | 10 minutes of reading

The state government has suspended IAS officer Ayush Oak, Collector of Valsad, in connection with the Surat land scam that caused financial loss to the exchequer of billions of dollars. A notification issued by the General Administration Department on Monday confirmed his immediate suspension.

Official sources say that the then Collector reported the land as government property, but Oak allegedly ignored the report and added the names of the tenants to the file. It is also alleged that some political leaders supported Oak in the fraud. The matter was referred to the Prime Minister’s Office, which directed the state to form a commission to investigate the incident.

Verification and suspension
The documents signed by Oak were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for verification. Based on the FSL reports, the government decided to suspend it. Oak was transferred in February this year and he signed the documents the day before the transfer.

The land involved is worth Rs 5,000 cr
The case centers around a huge 52-acre plot of land near the airport in Surat’s Dumas district. This government-owned land, worth over Rs 5,000 crore, had 22 false names entered in the revenue records when Oak was serving as Surat Collector. Oak reportedly signed these entries just a day before his transfer. Of the 22 names, only three belong to Surat and the rest are from Mumbai.

Government investigation
In response to the allegations, the government established a high-level committee to investigate the incident. The commission held several hearings, the most recent one last week, after the suspension previously imposed was lifted. Deceived landowners

they sought a stay to present their case, arguing that they had owned the land before independence and denying any wrongdoing. They even placed advertisements in newspapers to support their claims of legal ownership. In 1976, the name of the late Krishnamukhlal Shroff was entered in the land revenue and expenditure register. By 2005, the site was listed by Rajendra Shah, Dharmendra Shah and Sugamchand Shah as builders. Sugamchand, Pramodchandra Shroff (Krishnamukhlal’s son) and Kiranben Chauhan are dead, but the names of their heirs remain in the tax records.
As per the state government notification, AS Jha, additional collector of Valsad, will be acting collector of Valsad till further orders.