The final report of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) — which was constituted to investigate a massive land scam in Visakhapatnam — was tabled before the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday. While the report is yet to be made public, it is learned that several bureaucrats, local political leaders and one former Minister were named in the findings.
The multi-crore scam, which came to light in June last year, deals with allegations of encroachments over several acres of land and tampering of records, with hundreds of complaints being made from across Visakhapatnam district. It reportedly involves over 1,000 acres of land in the areas of Madhurawada and Kommadi, and had kicked up a massive political storm in the state.
Media reports suggest that the SIT report names some high-profile people including YSRCP leader Dharmana Prasada Rao, who was the Revenue Minister at the time of the scam. The SIT report also reportedly mentions Visakhapatnam Collector Praveen Kumar and Vizag Port Trust (VPT) Chairman Krishna Babu, among several other local level politicians.
When the scam first surfaced, the police had also arrested several local officials from tehsildars to village-level officers for allegedly tampering with land documents.
While none of the officials could be reached for a comment, Prasada Rao, who was accused of obtaining No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) for a company where he was the promoter when he was Revenue Minister, denied the allegations.
On June 11, 2017, days after the scam came to light, the state had formed a SIT consisting of Police, Revenue and Law Department officials. However, opposition parties were not satisfied with the SIT investigation and were demanding a CBI probe.
Speaking about the SIT, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had earlier said, “I want to take action against the culprits at the earliest. If the scam is entrusted with the CBI, it would take two decades for the completion of the investigation. You give me evidence today, I will take action tomorrow.”
Unconvinced, YSRCP chief and Leader of Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly YS Jagan Mohan Reddy alleged that several TDP leaders were involved in the scam and only a probe by a third-party agency like CBI could bring out the facts of the case.